RE/MAX 440
John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

My Blog

8 Tips for Charitable Holiday Giving

December 25, 2015 2:12 am

It’s an unfortunate reality – the potential for giving scams becomes greater during the holiday season. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, donors should take care when giving to organizations this time of year. If you’re considering making a donation, remember to:

Give Thoughtfully – Take the time to check out the charity to avoid donating to a questionable or poorly managed effort. The first request for a donation may not be the best choice. Be proactive and find trusted charities.

Check Registration – About 40 of the 50 United States require charities to register with a state government agency (usually a division of the State Attorney General’s office) before they solicit for charitable gifts. If the charity is not registered, that may be a significant red flag.

Verify Where Donations Go – How will your donation help? Watch out for vague appeals that don’t identify the intended use of funds. In addition, unless told otherwise, donors will assume that funds collected quickly will be spent just as quickly. See if the appeal identifies when the collected funds will be used.

Look for Transparency – After funds are raised, it’s important for organizations to provide an accounting of how funds were spent. Transparent organizations will post this information on their websites so that anyone can find out and not have to wait until the audited financial statements are available.

Exercise Caution with Assistance Funds – Some families may decide to set up their own assistance funds. Be mindful that such funds may not be set up as charities. Make sure that collected monies are received and administered by a third party such as a bank, CPA or lawyer. This will help provide oversight and ensure the collected funds are used appropriately.

Avoid Unfamiliar Links – Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in texts or emails. These may take you to a lookalike website where you will be asked to provide personal financial information or to click on something that downloads harmful malware. Don’t assume that charity recommendations on Facebook, blogs or other social media have already been vetted.

Opt for Established Organizations – This is a personal giving choice, but an established charity will more likely have the experience to address the circumstances and have a track record that can be evaluated. A newly formed organization may mean well, but may not be well managed.

Review Tax Deductibility – Not all organizations are tax exempt as charities under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Donors can support these entities if desired. Contributions that are donor-restricted to help a specific individual or family are not deductible as charitable donations, even if the recipient organization is a charity.

Source: BBB.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Property Tax Primer: Is Your Assessment Correct?

December 25, 2015 2:12 am

There are millions of articles out there on the best ways to prepare your home for sale. But what about preparing to stay, and dealing with a reassessment or revaluation that may be inaccurately boosting your local property taxes?

For some answers, I turned to Vision Government Solutions, a supplier of land management software technology and services to local government organizations, enabling efficient assessment, billing, collections, mapping, and permitting.

According to Vision, the following four questions and accompanying information can help you to decide if your assessment is correct.

1) Can I sell my property for that amount?

The first thing that you should do is ask yourself if you could sell the property for approximately that amount.

2) Do assessment officials have the correct information on my property?

You can review the information that the assessing department has collected on your property to make sure the data is accurate either online, or at your local assessor's office. While reviewing your property, make sure that all measurements on the sketch are accurate. Note that all measurements are taken from the exterior. You should also check the land size and interior data to ensure accuracy.

3) How much are similar properties in my neighborhood selling for?

If your city or town has property information available on the Internet, you can do a sales search by going to the appropriate website. Make sure that you choose recent sales that are similar to your own property. For instance, if you owned a 2,000 square foot colonial that is assessed for $350,000 and has one-half acre of land, you would fill out the choices as shown below.

4) How much have similar properties in my neighborhood been assessed for?

If you do not have any recent sales activity in your local area, you can look up the assessed value of similar parcels that are located near your property. Be aware that what may appear to be a similar parcel may in fact be very different from your property.

Whether it's just a few, or hundreds of dollars in taxes saved, it often pays to confirm the agency handling your property information has the most accurate and up-to-date data.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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