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October 11, 2013     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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October 11, 2013
 

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 11, 2013 PAGE 5B (StatePoint)--With the housing market recovery underway and interest rates low but on the rise, experts say now is a good time to buy a home. While searching for a home can be exciting, it's one step in the process. Determining your budget and assembling a team of specialists to help navigate the process can be just as important. Discover Home Loans is offering tips to help make starting the search for your home as easy as possible. Lay a financial foundation Prior to searching for a home, it's important to get a handle on your finances. Obtain a copy of your credit report and identify items that may affect your score and repair them. Put together a framework to save money for a downpay- ment, which can range from 3.5 percent to 20 percent of the total purchase price of the home depending on the lender and type of loan you choose. Establish a budget Tips to navigate the home buying process and contribute to a high-yield savings account regularly. For convenience purposes, consider making automatic deposits. Secure a mortgage banker The next step is finding a mortgage banker you can rely on and have a rapport with. Look for one who will educate you about the loan process and help you make choices that best fit your financial situation. Other important differentiating factors are choosing a mortgage banker who specializes in purchase loans and provides fully underwritten pre-approvals. It's also important that your mortgage banker and realtor work as a team to determine the best loan solution for you. Identify a budget range Once you've found a mort- gage banker, work with them to identify how much you can spend on your home. The best way to do that is to get preapproved for a loan. A pre- approval means you qualify for a particular loan amount based on yourverified income and credit information. "You may have heard stories about people who find the perfect house and then can't secure the financing. There's no reason to leave this as an open question," says TJ Freeborn, mortgage profes- sional at Discover Financial Services. Getting a fully underwrit- ten preapproval from your mortgage banker will give you confidence during the home shopping process. Plus, having a preapproval helps the seller take your offer seriously. Find a Realtor Finally, find a realtor who specializes in your area: Ask friends and family for recommendations, or look for suggestions from a repu- table business. For example, Discover Home Loans has partnered with one of the largest real estate networks and can match you with a reputable agent. "Your realtor should be a resource who can help you identify what's important in a house and community and find potential properties to look at," says Freeborn. i Once you've found the home you're interested in buying, notify your mortgage L Andy Dean - Fotolia.com banker to finish the financing process. Many tips and home buying resources are available on-line at www.DiscoverHomeLoans. com. Impact of the Affordable Care Act on your income taxes (BPT)--The most sig- nificant implications of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, also known as "Obamacare," are just around the corner. In addition to having wide- ranging effects on health insurance in 2014 and 2015, the legislation also impacts income taxes. "Though the Affordable Care Act has implications on income taxes, you can still act confidently when prepar- ing your tax return with an online solution," says TaxACT spokesperson Jessi Dolmage. "The question and answer interview will cover all the tax law changes." The health care act in- cluded several tax law changes for 2013 federal income tax returns due April 15, 2014: Employees will report the total amount paid by them and their employer for health insurance premiums, flexible spending beyond payroll deductions and other premiums, on their returns. "The amount is needed for health insurance changes; it doesn't impact your taxable income," explains Dolmage. "Simply enter the amount in Box 12 with Code DD on your Form W-2 when prompted by the tax program." If you itemize deductions, the threshold for deducting medical expenses increases to 10 percent of your adjusted .gross income (AGI). The threshold for taxpayers age 65 and older remains at 7.'5 percent. The tax software will calculate the deduction after you enter your medical expenses. n A 3.8 percent tax on net investment income will apply to taxpayers at higher income levels based on filing status. Individuals and heads of household with an AGI of $200,000 plus, married couples filing separately with an AGI of $125,000 plus, and couples filing jointly with an AGI of $250,000 plus must pay the tax. Answer a few questions about investment income and your tax program will do the rest. Taxpayers in those same AGI ranges will also pay an ad- ditional 0.9 percent Medicare tax on wages and compensa- tion in excess of $200,000. The tax is automatically withheld from employee wages, with the total amount provided in Box 6 of your Form W-2. If you're a business owner or self-employed, the tax is calculated using figures on your Schedule SE. The health insurance requirement doesn't have tax implications for another year. If you have health in- surance, your online tax so- lution will guide you through the simple process of re- porting it on your 2014 tax return due April 2015. If you don't have health insurance for a total of three or more months in 2014, you may pay a penalty that's reported and calculated on your tax return. Tax programs will calculate the amount based on number of uninsured in- dividuals in your household and household income. Uninsured individuals can shop and apply for health insurance through online "marketplaces," also called "exchanges," starting Oct. 1. States will have their own marketplaces, use the federal government's Health Insur- ance Marketplace or a hybrid of the two. Enrollment closes March 31, 2014. If you don't have access to minimum required employer- provided insurance and pur- chase insurance through a marketplace, you may qualify for an advanced premium tax credit applied directly to your monthly premiums. Eligibil- ity and amount are based on the cost of marketplace premi- ums and your household size and income.-I fyou do not take advantage of the advanced premium tax credit, you can still claim the refundable credit on your 2014 tax return. Cost-sharing subsidies may also be available for other health care expenses such as deductibles, copayments and coinsurance. Whether you have a simple or complex situ- ation. TaxACT makes it easy to navigate the tax implications of the Af- fordable Care Act anytime, anywhere. Prepare, print EVERSHORE empowermeot and e-file your federal taxes free at www.taxact.com/ affordable-care-act. Visit the Health Insurance Mar- ketplace for information about insurance options at www.healthcare.gov. At.LE(-Y 81 ASTHMA A.e,,OCA]'[5 OF Ci:NTIAk FtOIIDA Steven Rosenberg, M.D. Carlos M. Jacinto, M.D. Harleen Anderson, M.D. Treat/rig paffents/n Centra/Florida for ov 2S Yems Treating Allergic Diseases of the Ears, Nose & Throat Out physicians are Board Cedtfied Allergy, Asthma & Immunology & Board CedMed Pediatrics Winter Park 407-678-4040 AItamonte Springs 407-331-6244 www.aaacfonline.com Orlando 407-370-3705 Viera 407-678-4040