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Six Tax Breaks That Are Set to Expire at End of 2011
Old 12-02-2011, 05:31 PM   #1
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Six Tax Breaks That Are Set to Expire at End of 2011

This article provides info on some tax breaks that appear to be ready to expire at the end of CY 2011 (unless Congress extends them) Take 'em while/if you can. They are:

1. Energy-Efficient Home Upgrades
2. Higher Education Expenses
3. Adoption Help
4. Sales Tax
5. Mortgage Insurance Premium
6. Teachers' Classroom Materials

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Old 12-02-2011, 06:39 PM   #2
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#s 1, 2, & 4: Done!

I'm not willing to pay the price of eligibility for #s 3, 5, & 6...
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Old 12-02-2011, 09:20 PM   #3
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Decided to go ahead with a new roof (26 gauge metal) so will qualify for #1, the roofer started today and will hopefully finish tomorrow. Should have done this last year when the credit was higher but never got around to it.
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Old 12-02-2011, 11:28 PM   #4
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Decided to go ahead with a new roof (26 gauge metal) so will qualify for #1, the roofer started today and will hopefully finish tomorrow. Should have done this last year when the credit was higher but never got around to it.
Depending on where you live you may also get a discount on homeowners insurance if you agree to not file for cosmetic damage to the roof. In Tx its about a 20% discount alone.
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Old 12-03-2011, 02:22 AM   #5
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Isn't the revised Alternative Minimum Tax also due to revert to its old low threshold?
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Old 12-03-2011, 05:42 AM   #6
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Congress will meet the last week of the year and extend many tax credits that would have expired otherwise, happens every year. The IRS will have to jump through a bunch of hoops to have tax forms revised and ready and some won't be avaiable until who knows when. Happens like clockwork every year.
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Old 12-03-2011, 06:31 AM   #7
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Decided to go ahead with a new roof (26 gauge metal) so will qualify for #1, the roofer started today and will hopefully finish tomorrow. Should have done this last year when the credit was higher but never got around to it.
A roof! What does a new roof have to do with energy efficiency?
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Old 12-03-2011, 07:14 AM   #8
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A roof! What does a new roof have to do with energy efficiency?
The new coatings on some roofing material is better at preventing heat gain, (more reflective or maybe selectively emissive) so you get a credit if you install it. Of course, you get the same credit whether you live in Arizona or Alaska.
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Old 12-03-2011, 08:52 PM   #9
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A roof! What does a new roof have to do with energy efficiency?
Hey hey hey, we just spent thousands of dollars to raise our roof with two inches of foam insulation, reflective foil sheathing, and heat-reflective shingles.

Our hotbox of an old familyroom immediately cooled off by 15 degrees. We've already stopped using our ceiling fans, and by next summer we may actually be net producers of photovoltaic electricity.
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Old 12-03-2011, 10:09 PM   #10
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Hey hey hey, we just spent thousands of dollars to raise our roof with two inches of foam insulation, reflective foil sheathing, and heat-reflective shingles.

Our hotbox of an old familyroom immediately cooled off by 15 degrees. We've already stopped using our ceiling fans, and by next summer we may actually be net producers of photovoltaic electricity.
Congrats Nords, that's just awesome! 15 degrees - wow!

You are an inspiration!

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Old 12-04-2011, 11:32 AM   #11
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The 2011 CD Rom version of H&R Block's Deluxe At Home Federal + State tax software is available from Amazon for < $35.
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Old 12-04-2011, 05:39 PM   #12
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Hey hey hey, we just spent thousands of dollars to raise our roof with two inches of foam insulation, reflective foil sheathing, and heat-reflective shingles.

Our hotbox of an old familyroom immediately cooled off by 15 degrees. We've already stopped using our ceiling fans, and by next summer we may actually be net producers of photovoltaic electricity.
Interesting! You didn't say it, but you must have installed photovoltaic prior to the roof mods. I've flirted with photovoltaic changes, but I can't make the return numbers work yet. I hear that costs are coming down, but my state doesn't have much of an energy rebate plan. I'm still hopeful costs will come down. (Maybe I need a new roof.) Did your family room have an attic, or was the ceiling the underside of the roof? Tight
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Old 12-05-2011, 11:17 AM   #13
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Our hotbox of an old familyroom immediately cooled off by 15 degrees. We've already stopped using our ceiling fans, and by next summer we may actually be net producers of photovoltaic electricity.
He, he - so maybe now you don't want to upgrade your array any more.
But have you noticed that you can buy panels panels on mainland for about $1.50 per Watt nowadays?
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Old 12-05-2011, 11:00 PM   #14
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He, he - so maybe now you don't want to upgrade your array any more.
But have you noticed that you can buy panels panels on mainland for about $1.50 per Watt nowadays?
That's awesome, isn't it? Our renovation doubled our south-facing roof area, too. At one point the solar supply store and I were seriously contemplating 15 KW and a power-producing agreement, but the numbers don't pencil out because of HECO's monthly fees and 20-year terms.
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Interesting! You didn't say it, but you must have installed photovoltaic prior to the roof mods. I've flirted with photovoltaic changes, but I can't make the return numbers work yet. I hear that costs are coming down, but my state doesn't have much of an energy rebate plan. I'm still hopeful costs will come down. (Maybe I need a new roof.) Did your family room have an attic, or was the ceiling the underside of the roof? Tight
The old familyroom & back lanai roof was flat-- just joists with a BRAI torch-on roof on top and a drywall ceiling below. No insulation or any photovoltaic panels there, just one heck of a thermal gradient from the morning sun. The old kitchen roof had a void between ceiling & roof with a passive vent. We put some reflective foil in there to cool it off a little. The old livingroom roof was a single-layer planked ceiling-- plywood on the ceiling with shingles literally on the other side. No other insulation. The kitchen & livingroom roofs were covered with PV panels but that didn't cool off the roof much. All of those roofs are on the south side of the house and got hammered by sunshine all year long.

The new roof (familyroom & back lanai, kitchen, & livingroom) starts with a cathedral beam & rafter ceiling of half-inch plywood grooved to look like planks. Above that is the two inches of isocyanate foam (it comes in big 4'x8' boards). Above that is another half-inch of "Tuff Tek" plywood sheathing with a reflective foil layer. Above that is heavy-duty fiberglass tar paper and a layer of Solaris shingles.

Our old photovoltaic panel racks were made from scrap aluminum that we sawed into the correct sizes. They were a pain to attach to the roof and I didn't want to re-install them afterward. Instead I bought $2100 of flashed mounts and an aluminum rail/clamp system. Drill the holes into the firring strips around the foam panels, screw the mount & flashing into place with a generous dollop of roof caulk, put the rails on top, slap the panels on the rails, clamp 'em in place, and connect the wiring. Painless. From now on we can replace individual panels (sliding things around as needed) or even add a few more.

The first photo is "before", with PV panels on the lower roof and solar water panels on the top. Livingroom on the left, kitchen on the right, back lanai out of frame on the right. The second photo is "during", with the PV panels over the kitchen about to come off the roof, the back lanai's new rafters going up, and the new roofline taking shape. The third photo is after, with panels stretching from livingroom through kitchen to back lanai.

The PV array had paid for itself from Feb 2005-Sep 2010 with tax credits and power generation. Of course I've added $2100 to the costs and that payback is an average of 285 KWHrs/month at 30-35 cents/KWHr.

The new roof has greatly lowered our heat load. Right now, during "winter", we don't even open the house's windows during the day, let alone turn on ceiling fans. During the summer we'll have all the windows open and the tradewinds may be all we need. I don't know how much power the ceiling fans used (we'd have at least three of them running all day) but we were consuming between 0-50 KWHrs/month during the summer. I bet most of that goes away.

Our two new familyroom ceiling fans are Regency EnergyStar 60" models with DC motors (electronically rectified!). At medium speed each fan uses just 10 watts. We've only had them on for show & tell. They look great (they should, at $350 each) but now we fear they're just going to be static displays.

It's possible that our old panels and new roof will still make us net producers of energy. When our daughter stops coming home from college for six-eight weeks per year, I'm positive that we'll be producers!
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Old 12-06-2011, 09:20 AM   #15
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Sounds like a 20% return before the latest mods. But that's with an electricity cost of $0.30-35/kwh. My cost is around $0.10/kwh. But I'm still hopeful costs will improve on the panels and other gear so I can make the change. Oh course cost is a major factor, but there is something peculiarly attractive to me about turning the power meter backwards.
The house looks great, about what I would expect to see in Hawaii, only more upscale.
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Old 12-07-2011, 12:18 AM   #16
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Our return was mostly from sweat equity. We bought our panels from Craigslist & eBay. One set of panels was actually $2.30/watt because the owner had broken his hip and was moving out of the house. We removed the panels, brought them to our house, and found an electrician willing to let us do the mechanical work. Back then I was thrilled to find more used/seconds panels for $4/watt.

Hawaii's best solar benefit is actually water heating, not photovoltaic. At retail prices, a solar water system only has a 3-5 year payback while PV is more like 7-12 years.

Keep an eye on your state tax credits as well as the federal ones. DSIRE: DSIRE Home lists all the federal & state credits, which in 2005 were enough to write off 65% of the cost of the system.

You might also want to include some inflation, especially if you're dependent on fuel costs (like Hawaii). But the hardest sticking point for most homeowners is knowing that they're going to stay put long enough for the payback.

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The house looks great, about what I would expect to see in Hawaii, only more upscale.
Thanks! "Realtor's special" built in a newer part of a bedroom community in 1989, rode hard, bought cheap in 2000, lots of sweat equity.

Spouse now says the house is making the yard look bad. Guess I should've seen that one coming...
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Old 12-07-2011, 07:46 AM   #17
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>90% of my electrical needs comes from solar panels, but I live on boat :-)
and yes, boats qualified for the tax breaks if they have a head & galley.
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