Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Your tax documents - what to keep and shred

(BPT) - Whether you use old-fashioned manila filing folders, a flash drive or cloud storage, tax and personal finance authorities agree on the importance of saving tax documents and records. In addition to using the information for preparing your next income tax return, it may come in handy years from now.

"Your tax data is helpful and often required in many non-tax financial situations," says TaxACT spokesperson Jessi Dolmage. "For instance, insurance companies, lenders and creditors often use tax information to verify income and asset value. Form W-2s can provide proof of income if your Social Security benefits are less than what they should be."

Information to save for your next tax return

Organizing and saving information throughout the year will cut tax return preparation time and can even save you money. Save any information related to:

* Income from wages, dividends, interest or business: Forms W-2, 1099, and K-1, bank statements, brokerage statements

* Deductions and credits (child care expenses, medical and dental expenses, business use of home, charitable gifts, vehicle sales tax, alimony): Receipts, invoices, mileage logs, bank or credit card statements, canceled checks

* Home and property: Closing statements, invoices, proof of payment, insurance records, receipts for improvements

* Investments: Forms 1099 and 2439, brokerage statements, mutual fund statements

While you don't need a fancy or high-tech organizing system, you do need to keep the information in a secure place. Consider saving electronic copies to the cloud or on a backup storage device in addition to, or in place of, your paper files.

"One of the key advantages of going digital is that your tax information is better protected from natural disasters," says Dolmage. "Saving electronically also means you can access the information anywhere from a mobile device."

Apps and websites make digitizing documents easy. TaxACT DocVault is a free mobile app and website specifically designed to create and save secure, digital copies of tax documents. At tax time, import DocVault images into TaxACT Deluxe to save with your return.

What to keep after filing your taxes and how long to keep it

Knowing what information to save and for how long can be confusing. As a general rule of thumb, keep tax returns and related documents for at least three years from the April 15 filing deadline.

* Three years: Tax return forms and schedules plus all information to support what you claimed on your return, especially records related to property, investments, or business assets (for depreciation). While there are exceptions, the IRS has three years to assess additional tax and audit returns. Three years is also the amount of time you have to amend your return.

* Four years: Many income-taxing states have an additional year to audit individual returns.

* Six years: Forms W-2, 1099, etc. because the IRS has six years to contact you if you've failed to report income.

* Seven years: Any information regarding loss from worthless securities or bad debts.

Certain documents should be saved longer. "Information related to your home, property, investments and retirement plans should be kept indefinitely," says Dolmage. "If you dispose of an asset, be sure to keep the information for another three years."

Business owners should keep tax information for at least four years. That includes employment records, gross receipts, invoices, bank statements, proofs of purchase, asset records, databases, emails and even voicemails.

Refer to IRS Publication 552 at www.irs.gov for more information about tax recordkeeping, Publications 583 and 463 provide specific information for businesses. Visit www.taxact.com/apps to download TaxACT DocVault for free.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pensacola Real Estate Market Update

Pensacola Real Estate Market Update
Home sales continues to increase in the Pensacola area.

According to Pensacola MLS statistics, the number of Pensacola homes rented this year fell slightly from previous years.  Inversely, the number of homes sold continues to increase. 

Economists predict home sales will continue to increase and forecast that fewer will rent. Other predictions include:
  • Increase in first time home buyers from millienials
  • Decrease in investor sales
  • Mortgage rates will gradually increase
  • Home sales and home prices will gradually increase
  • Increase in new home construction
If you have any questions or want more statistics about the Pensacola real estate area, contact our broker Pam Brantley (850) 232-2200 or email her at Pam@PensacolaRealtyMasters.com

Thanks and have a great day,
Nicole St. Aubin, Broker Associate
Realty Masters of FL~ #1 in Pensacola Rental Homes!
4400 Bayou Blvd. #58B, Pensacola, FL 32503
Call us at (850) 473-3983
Over 45 Pensacola Rental Homes at www.PensacolaRealtyMasters.com
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Friday, December 12, 2014

Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Poising
Tragic case of carbon monoxide poisoning claims the life of three Pensacola residents.

Pensacola residents are mourning the loss of three Pensacola area residents who passed away this week from carbon monoxide poisoning.  We are so sad for this family who suffered poisoning after using a propane heater without proper ventilation. Read more about this story here: http://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/2014/12/11/one-killed-carbon-monoxide-leak/20241655/

If you have a gas heater, hot water heater or stove, you could potentially be subject to carbon monoxide poisoning.  A gas leak can occur inside your home from your appliances or outside your home from the main gas line. Carbon monoxide poisoning can also be caused from burning charcoal or wood, This colorless, odorless, tasteless gas is extremely dangerous because it is so hard to detect without a carbon monoxide detector.

Plug in Carbon Monoxide Detector in Pensacola Home
Plug in Carbon Monoxide Detector in Pensacola Home
Protect Yourself

A carbon monoxide detector can be purchased for under $25 from online or at your local hardware or Walmart. If you have a multi-story home, you should have one on each level.

 There are two basic types of carbon monoxide detectors. 
  • Wall mounted, battery operated carbon monoxide detector (either just CO2 or combo CO2 & smoke detector)
  • Plug in (usually with battery back up) carbon monoxide detector
Carbon monoxide detectors expire after 10 years. Check the date on yours to ensure it's still effective.

Wall mounted CO2 detector in Pensacola Home
Wall mounted CO2 detector in Pensacola Home
Warning Signs of a Gas Leak:
  • Carbon monoxide detector alerts
  • You may hear a hissing, leaking or roaring sound
  • You may smell a foul odor
Early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomitting
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Chest pains
Tragically, serious cases of carbon monoxide poisoning lead to death.  It is important to recognize the grave dangers of a gas leak and to stay informed with the use of carbon monoxide detectors.

If you suspect a gas leak, immediately vacate your home! Call your gas company immediately and do not re-enter your home until it is safe to do so.  Pensacola Energy's emergency number is (850) 474-5300.

The Pensacola Police Department is holding a blanket drive now through December 22, 2014. Consider donating some new or used blankets to be distributed to those struggling to keep warm this winter.   Bring your donations to 711 N. Haynes St. in Pensacola or call

More Resources:

Thanks and have a great day,
Nicole St. Aubin, Broker Associate
Realty Masters of FL~ #1 in Pensacola Rental Homes!
4400 Bayou Blvd. #58B, Pensacola, FL 32503
Call us at (850) 473-3983
Over 45 Pensacola Rental Homes at www.PensacolaRealtyMasters.com
Like us on facebook ~ Follow our pins ~ Watch our videos

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The New Landlord: Basic Rental Laws

The New Landlord:  Basic Rental Laws
Zillow study shows renters & landlords don't understand basic rental laws.    

I found this research study completed this year by Zillow to be fascinating.  With over 100 million renters in the US, it appears that 1 in 2 renters lack a basic knowledge of landlord and tenant laws.  Surprisingly enough, even 50% of landlords lack the same basic knowledge!  

The study showed that both landlords and tenants have a hard time understanding:

  • Laws surrounding security deposits
  • Laws surrounding background checks and credit checks
  • Laws surrounding privacy and access rights
  • Laws surrounding early lease termination
As many as 82% of renters and 76% of landlords reportedly do not understand the laws surrounding security deposits and credit/ background checks.

How knowledgeable are you?
Take this fun 10 question Zillow Quiz designed to test your Landlord & Renter IQ. What did you score?

Whether you are a tenant or a landlord, it's imperative that you develop an understanding and abide by all regulations set forth by all the bodies and ordinances which govern landlord and tenant laws.  

Just a few of the regulatory bodies you must consider when leasing your home! 
Professional Property Managers
As a professional property management company, our job is to continually monitor, learn, and comply with all national, state, and local laws that affect the housing market. Because we are not attorneys, we have a team of real estate attorneys on retainer to help us when we are unsure of how to interpret the lengthy laws. 

Are you a Florida landlord or interested in becoming one? 
Make sure to follow our blog series "The New Landlord: Tips & Tricks for the Profitable Landlord" for more advice on how to be an effective landlord!   See our past articles including:

Thanks and have a great day,
Nicole St. Aubin, Broker Associate
Realty Masters of FL~ #1 in Pensacola Rental Homes!
4400 Bayou Blvd. #58B, Pensacola, FL 32503
Call us at (850) 473-3983
Over 45 Pensacola Rental Homes at www.PensacolaRealtyMasters.com
Like us on facebook ~ Follow our pins ~ Watch our videos