BrooklynCovered Posts

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) Overview 1.5

“The new law increases the credit for qualifying children (i.e., children under 17) to $2000 from $1000, and increases to $1,400 the refundable portion of the credit. It also introduces a new (nonrefundable) $500 credit …”

An overview of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

The recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) represents major changes our nation’s tax code.

Here’s a look at some of the more important elements of the new law that have an impact on individuals. Unless otherwise noted, the changes are effective for tax years beginning in 2018 through 2025. That’s right. The next seven (7) years.

 

  • Tax Rates.  The new law imposes a new tax rate structure with seven tax brackets: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%,  32%, 35%, and 37%. The top rate was reduced from 39.6% to 37% and applies to taxable income above $500,000 for single taxpayers, and $600,000 for married couples filing jointly. The rates applicable to net capital gains and qualified dividends were not changed. The ‘kiddie tax’ rules were simplified. The net unearned income of a child subject to the rules will be taxed at the capital gain and ordinary income rates that apply to trusts and estates. Thus, the child’s tax is unaffected by the parent’s tax situation or the unearned income of any siblings.
  • Standard Deduction.  The new law increases the standard deduction to $24,000 for joint filers, $18,000 for head of household, and $12,000 for single and married taxpayers filing separately. Given these increases, many taxpayers will no longer be itemizing deductions. These figures will be indexed for inflation after 2018.
  • Exemptions.  The new law suspends the deduction for personal exemptions. Thus, starting in 2018, taxpayers can no longer claim personal or dependency exemptions. The rules for withholding income tax on wages will be adjusted to reflect this change, but IRS was given the discretion to leave the withholding unchanged for 2018.
  • New deduction for “qualified business income.”  Starting in 2018, taxpayers are allowed a deduction equal to 20 percent of “qualified business income,” otherwise known as “pass-through” income, i.e., income from partnerships, S corporations, LLCs and sole proprietorships. The income must be from a trade or business within the U.S. Investment income does not qualify, nor do amounts received from an S Corporation as reasonable compensation or from a partnerships a guaranteed payment for services provided to the trade or business. The deduction is not used in computing adjusted gross income, just taxable income. For taxpayers with taxable income above $ 157,500 ($315,000 for joint filers), (1) a limitation based on W-2 wages paid by the business and depreciable tangible property used in the business is phased in, and (2) income from the following trades or businesses is phased out of qualified business income: health, law, consulting, athletics, financial or brokerage services, or where the principal asset is the reputation or skill of one or more employees or owners.
  • Child and family tax credit.  The new law increases the credit for qualifying children (i.e., children under 17) to $2000 from $1000, and increases to $1,400 the refundable portion of the credit. It also introduces a new (nonrefundable) $500 credit for a taxpayer’s dependents who are not qualifying children. The adjusted gross income level at which the credits begin to be phased out has been increased tp $200,000 ($400,000 for joint filers).
  • State and local taxes. The itemized deduction for state and local income and property taxes is limited to a total of $10,000 starting in 2018.
  • Mortgage interest. Under the new tax law, mortgage interest on loans used to acquire a principal residence, and a second home is only deductible on debt up to $750,000 (down from $1 million), starting with loans taken out in 2018. And there is no longer any deduction for interest on home equity loans, regardless of when the debt was incurred.
  • Miscellaneous itemized deductions. There is no longer a deduction for miscellaneous itemized deductions which were formerly deductible to the extent they exceeded 2 percent of adjusted gross income. This category included items such as tax preparation costs, investment expenses, union dues, and unreimbursed employee expenses. So, all of your auto expenses, for example, are no longer deductible.
  • Medical expenses. Under the new law, for 2017 and 2018, medical expenses are deductible to the extent they exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income for all taxpayers. Previously, the AGI “floor” was 10% for most taxpayers.
  • Casualty and theft losses. The itemized deduction for casualty and theft losses has been suspended except for losses incurred in a federally declared disaster. So, if you are renter, or a coop or condo or dwelling owner who lacks comprehensive coverage for your personal property, now is the time to purchase coverage.
  • Overall limitation. The new law suspends the overall limitation on itemized deductions that formerly applied to taxpayers whose adjusted gross income exceeded specified thresholds. The itemized deductions of such taxpayers were reduced by 3% of the amount by which AGI exceeded the applicable threshold, but the reduction could not exceed 80% of the total itemized deductions, and certain items were exempt from the limitation.
  • Moving expenses. The deduction for job-related moving expenses has been eliminated, except for certain military personnel. The exclusion for moving expense reimbursements has also been suspended.
  • Alimony. There is some truth in the old song, “It’s Cheaper To Keep Her.” For post-2018 divorce decrees and separation agreements, alimony will not be deductible by the paying spouse and will not be taxable to the receiving spouse.
  • Health care “individual mandate.” Starting in 2019, there is no longer a penalty for individuals who fail to obtain minimum essential health coverage. (This will probably lead to fewer Americans purchasing health insurance, and more states reducing or eliminating Medicaid contributions for health care plans.)
  • Estate and gift tax exemption. Effective for decedents dying , and gifts made, in 2018, the estate and gift tax exemption has been increased to roughly $11.2 million ($22.4 million for married couples).
  • Alternative minimum tax (AMT) exemption. The AMT has been retained for individuals by the new law but the exemption has been increased to $109,400 for joint filers ($54,700 for married taxpayers filing separately), and $70,300 for unmarried taxpayers. The exemption is phased out for taxpayers with alternative minimum taxable income over $1 million for joint filers, and over $500,000 for all others.

As you can see from this overview, the new law affects many areas of taxation. I plan to hold at least one (1) public seminars in Brooklyn, to ‘drill down’ into just how the new law will affect you. There will be a fee charged for attendance at these seminars to offset the cost of the venue, and painkillers.

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is a frequent presenter in the areas of personal insurance, personal income taxation,  and budget and credit strategies for many organizations, including, Neighborhood Housing Services of NYC, Inc., HCCI, Impacct Brooklyn, and Bridge Street Development Corporation. He is a New York State licensed insurance agent and broker, and  NYS Defensive Driving Delivery Agent and Instructor.

You can reach Eustace at Eustace@insuremeeg.com, or 718-783-2722.

 

Someone Else’s Opinion

“Then, I just wound up viewing to a T. D. Jakes sermon. Next thing I knew, I was listening to him, Dr. Myles Munroe, and Dr. Jasmin Scurlock. I pulled out all of my old tapes by Les Brown, Earl Nightingale, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, James Weldon, Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, and other speakers, and did nothing but listen to them, and read books necessary for the feeding of my soul, for about a month.

So, I arrive home from another long insurance and income tax preparation day at my office when, lo and behold, there is one car with it’s lights on and another where the owner-driver is getting ready to open his door.

Now the driver in the first car occupied a space large enough for two cars. Unfortunately, as many people tend to do, the driver was running the engine, wasting precious gasoline, and making their own contribution to global warming while checking messages and updating their social media sites (“I’m in the car, class was okay, too many interruptions while I was Pinning. On my way home. Weather is yucky””.

So, I waited for the other spot. Now this car had about 5 inches of clearance on either end of the car. No problem, those are the spots I usually slide into on the first try.

The driver, a Black man with an African accent., kept looking at me and finally walked over to my car and with the most condescending attitude proceeded to tell me how he didn’t think I would be able to get my car into the spot he should have been in the process of vacating.

As he walked back to his car, I prayed God would make the other person in the two-car spot leave quickly, because this fool needed a good talking to.

Well readers, the Lord answered my prayer and Social Media vacated their spot. I zoomed into it, leaving enough room for another vehicle, got out of the classic, and walked over to the human I named Captain Stupid Head.

He opened his window and I got right in his face. “Let me school you Bucko. I don’t know where the you’re from, or what they taught you about the American Black Man before you got here, but don’t you ever again in your life, never again in your life, think you have the right to tell another Black man what he can and cannot do. You don’t know me, you know nothing about me, but I’ll tell you this slick, my ancestors picked cotton in this country without the benefit of paychecks, pensions, vacation days, the ability to love and legally marry, the right to watch their family sold away, and without the right to even learn how to read the slave master’s Bible, and your trifling ass shows up here with a student visa and probably all kinds of funding to get a college education, the benefit of which you will never realize if you keep telling people what you feel their limitations are. You feel me dog?

“Now stop driving like a damn punk, get out of this spot and go home. And give thanks to whatever Creator you worship you ran into me and not some fool with a gun, a foreclosure notice, and a layoff notice. At least with me, you’ll get to go home tonight. Next time, you could come across the wrong one and you won’t be so lucky.

“Oh, and if you get any stupid ideas in that empty head of yours, I wrote down your plate number and I just got the year and make of your car from your window registration. So got straight home, and please pray my car doesn’t ever even catch a cold.

“Leave. Now.”

My apologies to the cars at either end of his – he got out real quick.

Was I wrong, even foolish, to approach his vehicle and spew my mild venom?

Yes.

Absolutely.

While many will agree with my yes, others, knowing what my life has been like the past few months, are happy I didn’t pick up his car with him in it and toss them both into the bushes.

I believe God made this particular meeting possible for three reasons. One, Captain Stupid Head needed to be put in his place, possibly for the sake of a family back home, depending on whatever he can send back.

Two, I released a ton of pent-up despair I didn’t know I had, or refused to acknowledge I had. And oh boy, am I feeling better.

Number three, he knew this one wouldn’t try to shoot or stab me.

Thank you, God.

In other words, a rather propitious meeting.

Sometimes in life, the words of others can destroy us. And yes, I do mean destroy us to the point of wanting to say to hell with this thing called life. Recently, while sitting in the office wondering where I’d gone wrong in life (don’t act so sanctimonious, I’m sure a lot of you wonder the same thing at times. If you can really be honest with yourselves), when I felt compelled to call a client I hadn’t spoken to in ages.

I called the number I had on file without success. Temporarily disconnected, the message said.

Don’t ask me why, but I went a step further and sent her emails to every one of her email addresses. Couldn’t figure out why. Just had this impelling need, for some inexplicable reason to connect with this lady. Wrote some of my funniest, off the cuff material. Don’t know why. Just felt good doing it.

About five minutes later, my phone rang and lo and behold, it was her. The first thing she said to me was, “If it had been anyone else, I’d of gone through with it … ”

“Gone through with what?

“Killed myself. I was so finished with this life, and you had to send me those emails, you had to make me laugh again, when all I wanted to do was cry myself to sleep. Forever.”

“Where you at?”

“My girlfriend’s house. I’m staying here now.”

“What about your apartment?”

“Gave it up.”

“Why? That was a great, huge, and rent-stabilized apartment.”

“Uhhhhh, duh?”

“Oh yeah. Tell you what, give me your girlfriend’s address, I’m on my way.”

We talked, went for the coldest walk I’ve ever endured, shared coffee at a café, shed some tears together.

“Why?” I asked.

“I thought he loved me, he told me he loved me, but he just decided one day he could do better.”

She turned and looked at me. “G, what did you do when your heart was broken?”

“When I stopped crying, I sent my heart out for repair.”

“What? Where do you send a heart for repair?”

“The Universal Twenty-Four Repair Shop. Always an open bay. No need to schedule an appointment, drive-in service is available twenty-four hours a day, no waiting. You see, whichever Creator you believe in knows just when you are coming in for some work. You don’t even need money. Just give thanks for the repair. Heck, they’ll even loan you tools to do your own tune ups after the initial maintenance.”

“And guess what? All of the work comes with a lifetime warranty.”

Tears started falling from her face,her body began to shake and quake, and she began to moan, “Oh God, oh God.” I just put my arm around her shoulder and waited.

After a time, her quaking and crying stopped. “Where do you find this repair shop to start the healing?”

“You already found yours. You called out his name. The work’s begun.”

“G, I don’t know last time I prayed, and I don’t know how to pray, but …”

“Hell, if there is one thing I’ve learned over the past couple of years, it’s that the same people who think they are qualified to tell you how to pray really need to go in for a refresher course on what real prayer truly is.”

“Tell you what, let’s hold hands, and you just talk to The Universal Power. Some say God, some Yahweh, some Jehovah, some Allah, and some Buddah. Just talk, that’s prayer to me. Pray for what you want, not what you have. Work from your imagination, not your history.”

“How do I start, G?”

“Just talk. Tell you what, start by giving thanks and gratitude for life.”

“G, that seems so easy.”

“Yep, no need for soaring theatrics, loud screaming, jumping up and down. It’s not a performance, just a simple talk. Such a beautiful, simple prayer.”

We sat for a time, just talking when she looked at me and asked, “How did you survive feeling like you were inadequate, you weren’t enough?

“One day I looked my daughter’s high school yearbook, and realized I did something right for her to be positioned for the Blessings she enjoyed, enjoys now,  and the many more she will enjoy. Then, suddenly, I found all the photographs of her at college, photographs I’d had trouble finding before.

“Then, I just wound up viewing to a T. D. Jakes sermon. Next thing I knew, I was listening to Dr. Myles Munroe. I pulled out all of my old tapes by Les Brown, Earl Nightingale, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, James Weldon, Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, and other speakers, and did nothing but listen to them,  and read books necessary for the feeding of my soul, for about a month.

“What’s funny is I finally heard a quote, something Les Brown says every time he speaks. I mean, I’ve heard it at least 50 times, but I finally heard it for the first time.”

“What quote G?”

“Someone else’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.” I would add though, “Unless their opinion of you speaks to your greatness,your kindness, your love, your glory, and your ability to use the unique gifts and purpose God has given you to positively affect his world.”

“Now, make me a promise.”

“Anything G. Anything.”

“Promise me you’ll obey the three-day rule from this day forward.”

“What’s the three-day rule?”

“When you are under attack, take the problem, put it aside for three days, and then examine it again. Chances are during those three days you’ll come up with a solution, the problem will resolve itself, or you’ll realize what you thought was a problem or a failure wasn’t that at all. It is just the way you reacted to what you thought was a problem, and you now recognize it for the Blessing it really is.”

“You sure must have listened to a lot of tapes, huh?”

“You mean still listen to daily. You’ve got to feed what feeds you. And these meals are delicious.”

“Does the hurt ever go away?”

“I’ll let you know when it does. In the meantime, you do learn who loves you for you, who truly values you for who you are and what you bring to the table. You will smile and laugh at good jokes, and your heart will learn to soar again as you watch a play or movie, or hear a choir sing. And, as Les Brown would say, if you’ve got to fall, then fall on your back, because as long as you can look up, you can get up.

“And remember, the only people who don’t feel pain, don’t know hurt, are dead. Or damn liars.”

“Thanks G. Wait a minute, isn’t this your cell number, a number more difficult to get than President’s Obama’s?”

“Yep. I save it for the really special people, people who may need to reach me, especially when Evil declares war on my buddies. And don’t you ever leave home without it.”

 

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF, is a New York State licensed Insurance Agent and Broker, Income Tax Preparer, New York State licensed Continuing Education Monitor, and a Defensive Driving Delivery Agent and Instructor for Empire Safety Council.  You can reach him at 718-783-2722 or Eustace@insuremeeg.com to buy  flood, life, home, disability, condo, coop, renters, wedding, and long-term care insurance coverages you need to solidify your financial pyramid.

And, if you are his friend, he is available for the talk you never thought  you’d need.

 

Meet Marcia Clarke, 2017 President, Brooklyn Board of Realtors

“Last, networking and staying informed of new laws, developments, and marketing strategies are the mainstays of functioning like a professional. I consider it fundamental and it requires no batteries or internet. No matter how many years you’re licensed, you can always learn something new or discover how to do something you already know better.”

Meet Marcia Clarke, 2017 President, Brooklyn Board of Realtors

Marcia Clarke, 2017 President of the Brooklyn Board of Realtors addresses the audience after taking the Oath of Office

 

On January 10, 2017, another Presidential installation was held, one which those in New York City’s’ Real Estate industry feel carries more importance than the inauguration in Washington, D.C. For on that day, Marcia Clarke, Realtor, Owner and Principal Broker of M C Realty Consulting & Management, Inc., became the new President of the Brooklyn Board of Realtors.

Her installation ceremony was held at the Hudson River Yacht Club in Brooklyn’s Bergen Beach.

Richard Schulhoff,  the Executive Officer of both The Brooklyn Board of Realtors (TBBOR) and the Brooklyn Multiple Listing Service (BNYMLS) served as emcee, and Dawn Carpenter, respected Staten Island colleague and Marcia’s friend of many years in the real estate business, and the President-Elect for the New York State Association of Realtors, introduced Marcia.

Maryann Arbia, VP at Fillmore Real Estate Brooklyn

 

Richard Schullhoff, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Board of Realtors, and the Brooklyn Multiple Listing Service is the host with the most

2017 New York State Insurance Continuing Education

“Take my advice and don’t wait until the week before your birthday to get your CE done. Trust me, somebody always dies, gets ill, needs a ride to the airport, has a house fire, or elopes with the village idiot. Look, for all we know, Godzilla is real, and about to do battle with Mothra this year. In various New York State locales. “

2017 New York State Insurance Continuing Education

And now, a message from your sponsor, Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., New State Licensed Continuing Education Exam Monitor on, “Your 2017 New York State Continuing Education Requirements for your New York State Life, Health, and Property Casualty Licenses.”
 

Your Birth Year Matters

If you are a New York State-licensed insurance agent or broker, and you were born in an odd year, say like, 2017,  (you know, your birth year ends with a one of the following: 1,3,5,7 or 9), you must complete at least 15 continuing education credit hours to keep your license or licenses active.

Take My Advice

Take my advice and don’t wait until the week before your birthday to get your CE done. Trust me, somebody always dies, gets ill, needs a ride to the airport, has a house fire, or elopes with the village idiot.  Look, for all we know, Godzilla is real, and is about to do battle with Mothra this year. In various New York State locales.

And there’s no strain like the strain of trying to complete those hours through self-study, only to find out your must engage the services of a state-licensed proctor like myself.

And that is for a fee.
 
For each exam.
 
Pass or fail.
 
You really don’t want to fail.
 
Word to the wise, begin preparation to meet your CE requirements as soon as possible. It is so much easier to set aside study time each day, instead of trying to hide from the world for a week to get the knowledge in your brain.
 
So, should you choose to get your hours in through self-study, you will need a proctor.  Call me, Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF for an available testing time. My contact number is 718-783-7209, and my email is Eustace@insuremeeg.com.
 
Looking forward to hearing from you.
 
At least a month before we have to sing, “Happy Birthday.”
 
 

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is an independent insurance agent and broker based in Brooklyn, NY. Call him today at 718-783-2722 to make an appointment for your personal insurance review of your home, auto, flood, renters, coop, condo, life and disability insurance policies.

You can also reach Eustace with an email to Eustace@insuremeeg.com.

Family Quarter Conversations

I can only imagine the scene in the Family Quarters of the White House last night. Barak has dried Michelle’s tears, (or, more likely, she’s dried his), and they are hugging each other.

I can only imagine the scene in the Family Quarters of the White House last night. Barak has dried Michelle’s tears, (or, more likely,  she’s dried his), and they are hugging each other.

There’s a soft knock at the door, and their two beautiful daughters come into their bedroom, sitting on the edge of the bed.

“Daddy, does America really hate you so much?”

” Seems so sweetie.”

“Why Daddy?”

“I guess racial hatred makes America just not really ready for prime time yet kiddo.”

Their conversation is interrupted by another knock at the door.

“That had better not be Joe,” President Obama joked.

The door opened and Grandma walked in. Wearily, she walked over to the sitting chair, and sat down .

She looked over to her family, taking in the sight.

“Barak?”

“Yes Mom?”

“How they like you now?”

Silence.

“And Barak?”

“Joe is outside. He needs a hug too.”

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr. is, most importantly, a Father. A Father who is praying for an America which has lost it’s way. 

Wheel Locks, Wherefore Art Thou?

One of my neighbors, seeing the precautions I’d taken for a then ten-year-old car with dents and rust made some derisive comments about wasting money on protecting something so old and out of date. I responded by asking him whether his wife still carried life insurance on his old and out of date self, which shut him up.

Wheel Locks, Wheel Locks, My Rims For A Set of Wheel Locks!

In a recent BrooklynDaily.com article, residents of the Bay Ridge community were crying the blues because of an uptick in the number of stolen tires and rims from their cars (http://www.brooklyndaily.com/stories/2016/36/br-rim-thefts-in-ridge-2016-08-26-bk.html?utm_source=20160829&utm_medium=email&utm_content=link&utm_campaign=newsletter). My question to the residents of the affected communities is a simple one: What, you never heard of wheel locks? How could you even think about parking any car on any street in New York City without wheel locks on each wheel? Since most criminals want to steal as quickly and simply as possible, the simple installation of one wheel lock on every wheel will solve the problem of stolen tires and rims quickly.

I remember the night I purchased the Subaru, the first accessory purchases I made were a set of wheel locks, and  a Club and Club Shield for the steering wheel from my local Auto Zone store.

The Nosy Neighbor

One of my neighbors, seeing the precautions I’d taken for a then ten-year-old car with dents and rust made some derisive comments about wasting money on protecting something so old and out of date. I responded by asking him whether his wife still carried life insurance on his old and out of date self, which shut him up.

Even a Mercedes baby, even a Mercedes
Even a Mercedes baby, even a Mercedes

Two days later, he came out of the house to find his car on blocks.

Three weeks later, after replacing the stolen rims and tires, the thieves didn’t go half-way.

They stole his car.

No, he lacked both wheel locks and a Club and Shield. Strange his Super-Duper, Organic Passive alarm neither sounded or protected his vehicle.

Some More Thefts

Two other tire thefts in my neighborhood come to mind when I think of the power of wheel locks to keep your wheels on your car.

I’d taken my daughter to meet her school bus at the intersection of Glenwood Road and East 18th Street. While parking my car, I noticed a brand-new, straight off the lot Nissan Maxima, well, not even on blocks. The wheel thieves added the ultimate indignity of leaving the car on the ground after stealing the wheels.

While I took pictures of this vehicle, the owner, a young woman, angrily asked me why I was taking pictures of her car. I responded, “Are you kidding? Your car is on the ground. Why didn’t you ask the dealer to install wheel locks on your car? Forget that, why didn’t you install your own wheel locks?”

“I bought wheel locks. My boyfriend told me to park on a safe block and my car would be all right for one night. He’s on his way with replacement rims and tires so I can get to work”

I am so glad I wasn’t him.

Just this past summer, I went for a Sunday afternoon walk, only to come upon another brand-new vehicle on bricks.

I Should've Bought Those Wheel Locks
I Should’ve Bought Those Wheel Locks

At least they put it on bricks.

Now the avenue where the car was parked has constant traffic at all hours of the day and night. It is also one of those streets where the police patrol constantly.

These thieves were good, but not that good. With the help of the local community and their barking dogs, the officers from the local precinct caught at least five of the thieves in the act of stealing rims and tires four (4) days later. This group of thieves worked in a six-man team, with two (2) driving cars, and the other four taking one wheel each on the target vehicle.

So, to my friends in Bay Ridge, and every other neighborhood, buy wheel locks. So what if they don’t look that good. At least you’ll still have your rims and tires.

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF,  is an independent insurance agent and broker and income tax preparer  based in Brooklyn, NY. Call him today at 718-783-2722 to make an appointment for your personal insurance review of your home, auto, flood, renters, coop, condo, life and disability insurance policies.

You can also reach Eustace  by sending him an email to Eustace@insuremeeg.com.

 

Floodplains Outside Your Front Door

Unfortunately, for many homeowners, the answer they receive from their agent or broker will be “No, you don’t have flood insurance. You’re three and one-half miles from the nearest coastline. And if you recall we discussed adding flood insurance coverage to your insurance portfolio and you refused to spend money on a flood insurance policy when you lived in what you considered a very safe flood zone.”

Floodplains in Bedford-Stuyvesant? Bushwick? Brownsville? Park Slope? Fort Greene / Clinton Hill? Carroll Gardens? Getouttahere!

Floodplains are everywhere?

Who knew?

Picture this. It’s another beautiful day in the wonderful city of Brooklyn, New York. The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, and that annoying depression in the middle of the street halfway down the block (which happens to be right in front of your house), suddenly erupts into the most glorious of geysers. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water burst into the air,  land on the street and your sidewalk, and begins to pour into the first floor, garden level, and basement of your beautiful home.

Well, your formerly beautiful home. I mean, you can still use the upper floors.

You hope.

Strange how you never noticed your block is one of three forming a shallow valley. No matter which point you turn to on the compass, you realize adjoining streets and avenues all slope down to where you stand. In fact, it reminds you of the pictures you’ve seen of floodplains around the country. So that geyser spewing tens of thousands of gallons of water each minute from a broken underground water main, is filling up yours and the surrounding blocks as though they were one huge swimming pool.

And the water is getting deeper by the minute.

You suddenly realize what floodplains are, and your existence in one.

Thank Goodness For City Services

One real positive about living in New York City is how quickly the Department of Environmental Protection, (DEP), reaches your block and shuts off the main which gave life to the geyser, just an hour or two. Once they shut the water off, they set about pumping out the water which collected underground. After that they’ll invite each local utility with underground pipes, tubes and wires in the general vicinity of the water main break to come and check their equipment, making any necessary repairs.

Once this and other work, including repairs to the water main, are completed, the giant crater in the street is repaired, the water service restored, and all will be well with the world again.

Well, almost. You see, several major problems remain.

Property Owner, We Have A Problem

As the water poured into your home, you quickly called your homeowners insurance company to report the claim, only to learn your loss isn’t covered by your homeowners insurance policy.

Flood, as your insurance company’s customer service representative explained, is not covered by the typical homeowners insurance policy. This is clearly discussed in the Exclusions section of each homeowners insurance policy which reads,

“WATER DAMAGE, MEANING:

a.    Flood, surface water, waves, wave wash, tidal water, overflow of a body of water, or spray from any of these, whether or not a result of precipitation; or driven by wind … “

So, even though your property located miles from the coast, and you are not in a high-risk flood zone, you suffered a loss caused by a flood.

Your basement is a disaster. You need to rip out and replace floors, ceilings and walls, and replace your hot water heater and boiler and the freezer. Where will you find the money going to come from for all of these unexpected expenses?

The customer service representative asks you a frightening question. “You don’t have a flood insurance policy with our company. Do you have a flood insurance policy with any other company?”

Will You Get Good News or Bad News?

Now comes the moment of truth. You call your insurance agent to see if you have a flood insurance policy.

Unfortunately, for many homeowners, the answer they receive from their agent or broker will be “No, you don’t have flood insurance. You’re three and one-half miles from the nearest coastline. And if you recall we discussed adding flood insurance coverage to your insurance portfolio and you refused to spend money on a flood insurance policy when you lived in what you considered a very safe flood zone.”

If you think this is wrong, look at the situation in Baton Rouge, where they recently suffered heavy rainstorms which lead to wide-spread flooding. In Baton Rouge and its surrounds, some 82% of the houses suffering flood damage lacked flood insurance.

To make matters worse, some 7,000 plus businesses in the affected area suffered severe flood damage, causing them to at least temporarily, close their doors.

Over 73,000 employees are now unemployed until the affected businesses can secure bank and federal loans to reopen. If they ever reopen.

And some 80% percent of the affected homes and businesses are located in “X” flood zones, the zone where you should only have to worry about floods every 500 years.

Climate Change, Anyone?

This and other past and future flooding events prove there is a new model of what is a “safe” flood zone. Here’s a hint: There are none.

New construction which places concrete and macadam on what was permeable ground, changes the very nature of a community, increasing the flood risk.

Aging infrastructure in the shape of bad roads places more stress on underground water pipes, which themselves are in serious need of replacement, causing more and larger water main breaks.

For properties closer the shore, rising sea levels, and a warmer Atlantic Ocean create hurricanes packing increasingly greater destructive power, resulting in more damage to sandy beaches and dunes, and the homes they were designed to protect.

And the hurricane season, which is ‘supposed’ to only run from the first of June until the first of November, seems to start earlier, and end later, each year.

So please take this simple bit of advice: “Hurricane Season” is no longer just a season, it is a year-round event.

Flood zones are just lines on a piece of paper, and water is no respecter of lines on a piece of paper.

We are all at risk from the danger of flooding, and the rebuilding costs which follow.

Stay dry.

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is an independent insurance agent and broker based in Brooklyn, NY. Call him today at 718-783-2722 to make an appointment for your personal insurance review of your home, auto, flood, renters, coop, condo, life and disability insurance policies.

You can also reach Eustace with an email to Eustace@insuremeeg.com.

Tax Tips for Rental Property Owners , Part 1

Certain rental property expenses can be deducted from your rental property income to determine your profit or loss for a given tax year.

Time for Rental Property Owners to prepare for next year’s income tax return

With the end of the 2016 income tax filing season, it seems a good time to review two tax tips for rental property owners where there is partial personal use or not personal use of an owned dwelling.

This post will address which expenses are deductible. The next post will address the difference between repairs and improvements and how the different ways each can affect your income tax return.

What are deductible rental property expenses?

Certain rental property expenses can be deducted from your rental property income to determine your profit or loss for a given tax year. Some of the expenses you can deduct in the tax year you pay them are:

  • Mortgage interest
  • Real estate taxes
  • Property insurance
  • Utilities
  • Cleaning and maintenance costs
  • Supplies  (For example, garbage bags, brooms and mops used only to maintain the rental property. No fair bringing your broom from home to take care of the rental property)
  • Pest control
  • Lawn care and landscaping
  • Trash
  • Repairs, including the cost of labor
  • Credit and employment checks for tenants
  • Management fees if you use the services of an outside property manager
  • Legal or professional fees
  • Travel expenses (Keep records of automobile mileage, and taxi, train, and bus fees for all of those trips to Home Depot or to your local hardware or plumbing supply stores)
  • Advertising (The cost of placing ads for rental apartments in local papers)
  • Utilities (National Grid, Consolidated Edison, New York City Water and Sewer, and payments made to your oil company.

Why you need a separate checking account for your rental property

Owning a rental property is completely different from owning a one-family home. To make sure your experience as a rental property owner is a profitable one, get a separate checking account which you will use only for all of your rental property income and expenses. This account will accomplish two important tasks:

  1. All income and expenses for the rental property will flow into and from this separate account, making it easier for you to track what you spend to maintain the property and the income you’re receiving. This is easier than trying to remember if a certain Home Depot entry was for the book-case in your living room, or a new ladder for your rental property.
  2. Once all the income and expense information for your rental property is in one place, gathering the information necessary to prepare your income taxes is much simpler.   Since the 75 days of income tax preparation season are not the time to finally try to make sense of your financial life for the past year, I give a small discount to those clients who come in with all of their expenses on one or two pieces of paper.. If I must do client recordkeeping, the client will pay a premium for the extra time and energy I must expend to complete their return.

The costs of maintaining your one-family personal home are not deductible.

It’s important to know how the owners of a one-family dwelling they personally occupy are limited about how certain expenses affect their personal income tax return. With a one-family home, you can only itemize your mortgage interest, and real estate taxes. It is imperative to keep records of any improvements made to the house as this will increase the basis when the house is sold, resulting in a lower possible tax bill.

You can find more about this subject in Publication 527 on the Internal Revenue Services website, https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p527.pdf .

8 Tips To Save Money On Your Auto Insurance

Many companies will charge more for an auto insurance policy if you cannot show evidence of being currently insured for at least one (1) to three (3) years prior to your application …

Ah, as the cool nights of autumn become the, well, the warm days of winter, and holiday joy becomes the pain of looming credit card payments, you, like many others, may begin an annual search of finding ways to save money on everything from the cellular phone bill to food. Let me help with these 8 ways to save money on your auto insurance.

1. Many companies will charge more for an automobile insurance policy if you cannot show evidence of being currently insured for at least one (1) to three (3) years prior to your application. So, even if you don’t own an automobile, consider the purchase of a Non-Owned Automobile Insurance Policy. You can also join an organization like ZipCar for about $19.00 each month, which includes liability coverage limits of $300,000. Either way, you can save thousands of premium dollars.

2. Take a Point and Insurance Reduction Class. You’ll automatically
qualify for a 10% discount on your personal liability, no-fault and collision
coverages. And make sure your children, and anyone else who regularly drives your car (and is hopefully listed on your automobile insurance policy as a driver),
takes the class.

3. If you have children in high school, and they are trying to choose between a college  88 miles away, and another one at least 100 miles away, choose the school at least 100 miles away. As long as both schools offer similar need-based tuition plans, you will save money by sending your offspring just another 10 or so miles away. Why? Many companies offer a “Student Away At School” discount, and depending on the company, you premium will either not increase, or only suffer a small increase.

You child must simply go to school at least 90 miles away from home.

4. If you have high-schoolers on your current family policy, encourage them to maintain at least a “B” average, so you will qualify for the Good Student discount. And they still get to live indoors.

5. Purchase your automobile and home, renter, condo or coop policies
from the same company. You’ll qualify for multi-policy discounts, which can
save you at least 10% on each policy.

6. Before you actually purchase a car, call your agent and ask them to give you the symbol for the vehicles you are considering. One young lady was going to purchase a car with the letters “XL” in the model name. I told her the model with only an “L” was two symbols lower, which would result in much lower comprehensive and collision insurance premiums. The major difference between the two models of the same car? One had sun visors with extensions, and the other did not. So, she purchased the “L” model, ordered the fancier sun visors from the dealership, and installed them herself, saving a ton of money on her auto insurance.

7. Improve your insurance credit score. The higher your insurance
credit score, the lower your premium will be. And do everything you can to
avoid having any of the “Five Deadly Insurance Credit Score Sins” on your credit report in the last five years.

The “Five Deadly Insurance Credit Score Sins”are:

a. Foreclosures

b. Judgments

c. Repossession

d. Bankruptcy, or filed for bankruptcy

e. Liens

Always remember, ‘the higher your insurance credit score, the lower your premium’ and the reverse, ‘ the lower your insurance credit score, the higher your premium.’ Any of the “Five Deadly Insurance Credit Score Sins” can hurt your chances of qualifying for a lower automobile insurance rate.

8. Lastly, whatever you do, never, never, never let your automobile
insurance, or any insurance policy for that matter, lapse due to the
non-payment of premium. This alone will disqualify you for coverage with
many preferred companies for several years.

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is an independent insurance agent and broker based in Brooklyn, NY. Call him today at 718-783-2722 to make an appointment to check your home, auto, flood, renters, coop, condo, life and disability insurance policies.

You can also reach Eustace by sending an  email to Eustace@insuremeeg.com.

 

Automobile Insurance Quote

Be honest and tell the tell the quoting broker or clerk if there are other drivers in your household, whether or not they will driving your car, or own their own cars. There are few things worse than being caught in a lie when looking for auto insurance.

Put The Car Behind The Automobile Insurance Quote.

Thinking about calling some insurance agencies for an automobile insurance quote? Looking for better coverage for your dollar, a less-expensive policy, or some combination of both?

Then do yourself and every broker or clerk you speak to a tremendous favor and prepare certain information before you make your first call for an automobile insurance quote.

Basic Information You’ll Need For Your Quote

  1. Your driver license because the broker will need the license number to order your motor vehicle record.  Yes, people do call for an automobile insurance quote and can’t find their driver license. What would they do if the police pulled them over and said “License, insurance card and registration”?
  2. Your date of birth.
  3. Your social security number.
  4. The age you were first licensed. 1
  5. The year you were first licensed. 1
  6. Has you driver license even been suspended or revoked for cause?
  7. Have you ever completed a Defensive Driving course? If so, what was the date you completed the course. 2
  8. The Vehicle Identification Number (s) of any vehicle you want to insure.
  9. Your vehicle’s year, make, and model.
  10. The cost of your vehicle when it was new.
  11. How the car or truck will be driven. In other words, will it be pleasure only, used for a short or a long commute to work, or will it be used in the course of your business?
  12. Your current address. If you haven’t lived at your current address for at least three (3) years, what was you last address, and how long did you live there?
  13. The name, policy number, and length of time you’ve been insured by your current auto insurer, and any other automobile insurance company you’ve been insured by in the last five (5) years.
  14. How many, if any, no-fault losses have you had in the past five (5) years? If any, when did they occur, and how much was paid for each claim? 1
  15. How many moving violations?
  16. How many accidents in the last five (5) years? How many were definitely your fault? 1
  17. When did they occur? 1
  18. How many points on your license? 1

Honesty Counts

Above all else, be honest. Tell the quoting broker or clerk if there are other drivers in your household, whether or not they will driving your car, or own their own cars and carry their own insurance. There are few things worse than being caught in a lie when looking for auto insurance.

For example, I recently tried to work with a young lady who, when our conversation began, confirmed she lived alone. There were no other people in her household.

This young lady then told me she had two (2) vehicles to insure. To insurance agents and brokers this is a sure danger sign, especially for someone who’d never had an automobile insurance policy before. So, I asked her whether she would be driving both vehicles, or would someone else drive the second vehicle. She said her husband would be driving the second vehicle. So, when I asked her if she and her husband lived together, she seemed slightly put off, telling me that of course she, her husband and their children lived together.

I asked why she didn’t provide this information when I first requested it and she admitted that a family member told her not to as this should get her a lower rate.

He must have some driving record. Little wonder why automobile insurance premiums are so high, especially here in Brooklyn and Queens.

Best of luck with your search.

References:

1   All of this information can be found on your driving record, or driving abstract. To avoid a trip to their local DMV office, New York State licensees can go to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles website, http://dmv.ny.gov.

  1. Click on “Top Online Services” under the heading, “Driver Licenses.”
  2. Click on “Get My Driving Record.”

You can order your abstract either through the mail using the MV-15 form for $10.00, or get it online for the fee of $7.00. You will have to create a “MyDMV” account to this.

Of course,  you can always get a copy of your driver license by simply going to your  local DMV office.

2 Defensive Driving courses provide automobile insurance premium discounts and driver license point reduction which last for three (3) years from the course date.

For 33 years, and since October 20, 1995 when he opened his own financial services agency, Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF has enjoyed providing his clients with the personal lines insurance coverages, income tax services, and defensive driving workshops they need to better their financial lives. 

Call him at 718-783-2722, or email him Eustace@insuremeeg.com for a competitive quote for your life, home, flood, disability, renters, coop, condo, long-term care, and automobile insurance, personal income tax preparation services, or the date of his next defensive driving class.