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

Splurge vs. Save: Designing a High-End Kitchen

August 5, 2015 1:57 am

(BPT) – It’s no secret good design can enhance your daily life, especially in the heart of the home: your kitchen. In fact, 98 percent of respondents to a recent Dwell survey were willing to pay more for premium items that bring a high-end, functional kitchen design vision to life. But choosing between splurging on those items and saving money on the backend can be challenging. Where do you draw the line?

In conceptualizing and creating a high-end kitchen, renowned designer Nate Berkus recommends dishing on a well-made marble countertop.

“It’s such a classic piece but also very durable, meaning it will still look great for years to come, which is what a forever kitchen is all about,” Berkus explains.

Lighting, on the other hand, is an opportunity to save.

“The trick is to take the time to shop for vintage sconces and light fixtures,” says Berkus. “They will add loads of character to your home but don’t have to cost a lot."

Another way to add character to your kitchen is flooring. Think vintage wood flooring – it’s a splurge, but so worth it. You can then save on new cabinetry by painting the existing ones in a black lacquer or gray.

“I’ve done this in my own home renovations and for clients. The effect is so great, no one will know you didn’t spend a fortune on new cabinets,” Berkus adds.

When it comes to appliances, look for premium stainless models at the best you can afford. Hardworking appliances that can go the distance are worth every cent.

When dressing up your kitchen, shop your home and use things you already own. Objects from your travels, framed photographs, ceramic bowls or hand-woven baskets are all things that personalize a space and make it feel layered.

“I love the idea of doing something unexpected in the kitchen, like creating a seating area in your kitchen space,” says Berkus. Shop your weekend flea market or online for a vintage sofa and coffee table and set up an area for your family to relax in.

“It’s all about creating moments like these that help you live more beautifully,” Berkus says.

It’s important to remember the goal is always to design a kitchen that won’t feel dated in one year, or even five years. Every elements of your kitchen needs to go the distance, whether you splurge or save on those desired elements that bring your personal style to life.

“When designing a high-end space, it’s important to remember that you’re shaping more than just a living environment; you’re laying the foundation for a future community of friends and family,” says Dwell President and CEO Michela O’Connor Abrams. “Design elements that marry beautiful aesthetics, intuitive technology and functionality – and are reflective of your authentic taste and personal style – should always rise to the top when deciding which products to introduce into your home.”

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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4 Tax Benefits for People with Disabilities

August 4, 2015 1:54 am

Now 25 years old, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) continues to provide assistance to people with disabilities, including help in the form of tax benefits and services. According to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), people with disabilities can benefit from the following.

1. ABLE Accounts – A newer program, tax-favored ABLE accounts are designed to enable people who became disabled before age 26 and their families to save for and pay for disability-related expenses. Any state can offer its residents the option of setting up an account, or can contract with another state that offers such accounts.

Contributions totaling up to the annual gift tax exclusion amount, currently $14,000, can be made to an ABLE account each year, and distributions are tax-free if used to pay qualified disability expenses.

2. Tax Credits – Low-and moderate-income workers and working families often qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable credit that varies by income, filing status and family size. Although many eligible taxpayers with disabilities get the EITC, the IRS estimates as many as 1.5 million others miss out on it each year because they fail to file a federal income tax return.

Generally, eligible taxpayers can still file a return claiming the credit for tax year 2012, 2013 or 2014. People can see if they qualify by visiting IRS.gov.

The credit for child and dependent care expenses can also help working taxpayers paying the cost of caring for a spouse or dependent who is physically or mentally unable to care for themselves. To claim the credit, use Form 2441. Publication 503 contains further details.

3. Deductions
– Taxpayers with disabilities can deduct various impairment-related work expenses on their federal income tax return. Both employees and self-employed individuals may qualify.

In addition, various unreimbursed disability-related expenses qualify as deductible medical expenses. However, to get a tax benefit, an eligible taxpayer must itemize their deductions on Schedule A, and their total medical expenses must exceed 10 percent of their adjusted gross income (7.5 percent for taxpayers who are at least age 65). Eligible expenses include:

• Artificial limbs, contact lenses, eyeglasses and hearing aids

• Cost and repair of special telephone equipment for people who are deaf or hard of hearing

• Cost and maintenance of a wheelchair

• Cost and care of a guide dog or service animal

• Within limits, premiums for qualified long-term care insurance

For a detailed list of qualifying medical expenses, see Publication 502.

4. Tax Help – Publication 907, available on IRS.gov, highlights these and other tax benefits for people with disabilities, including special rules for reporting disability income. During the tax-filing season, trained community volunteers prepare tax returns for low-and moderate-income taxpayers, including many people with disabilities, at thousands of neighborhood tax help sites nationwide through the IRS-sponsored Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs.

Year round, the IRS also offers a variety of helpful resources through the Accessibility link on IRS.gov. These include accessible IRS forms, instructions and publications that can be downloaded or viewed online in text-only format, Braille-ready files, browser-friendly HTML, accessible PDF, large print and ePub for mobile devices. The IRS has also produced 100 YouTube videos in American Sign Language on topics ranging from the Taxpayer Bill of Rights to the EITC.

In addition, taxpayers can request reasonable accommodations for services in any federally funded or federally assisted tax program or facility.

Source: IRS.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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