MORE SCAMS: ALERT!

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"Don't let the same dog bite you twice." - Chuck Berry


The most common forms of scams targeting taxpayers occur before April 15th (or the 18th, as it was this year), but as tax planning and correspondence continues year-round, so do the fraudsters.

It seems that once they get a taste of that sweet, sweet stolen money, they keep inventing more ways to engage you and your money.

So here are some newer ones for which to be on guard, as well as a reminder about some of the regular variety...

Real bank accounts sent fraudulent money
This is a new twist to a common problem: fake returns filed. But in this instance, the criminal sends funds to YOUR bank account ... and then comes to you, claiming that there has been some sort of error. They do this to prevent the IRS from raising an alarm for funds being deposited into unrelated accounts.

The scammers then contact you, either posing as an IRS representative calling about a refund error or as an agent of private collection agency going after tax debts. As fake agents, they tell you to send the funds back to the Treasury -- except it's really going into their hands. As collection agent impersonators, they instruct you to forward the money to their little fake collection agency.

Fake charities come calling
Every time a natural disaster strikes, these outfits pop up like moles to be squashed. They advertise and spread via social media and typically don't appreciate it when you ask difficult questions. That's why if you have any questions about a charity and the group seeking your contribution won't answer them...don't give. Legitimate  nonprofits are happy to prove that they are really doing the good work they advertise.

The IRS has set up an online tool to verify charitable organizations called "Select Check" that can help you navigate the murky waters of this area. In general, a good rule of thumb is to give to established charities, or those endorsed by trusted friends.

Fake withholding verification
In this doozy, the crooks will mail (or fax, if you can believe it) a letter to their scam targets, most often those who are international taxpayers or non-resident aliens. The letter tells them that although they are exempt from withholding and reporting income tax, they need to authenticate their information by entering personal and tax info on the enclosed, phony version of Form W-8BEN and faxing it to the crooks.

The first problem is that these forms are only supposed to be sent to a "withholding agent", and they often reference fictitious forms. Don't fall for this one -- run these sorts of things through us before complying.

Fake IRS agents calling you
This one has been a common tax scam as of late. The IRS estimates that 2 million taxpayers have been called over the past year. And lest you think we're getting collectively wise, they also estimate that they have already gathered over $60 million in fraudulent funds. And they are still going at it. Watch out.

There are more out there like this, so if you suspect you're being targeted, here's what you should do...  Read More...


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2 Things Real Estate Investors Must Know About Estate Planning

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First, NOW is the time to act…Did I say NOW?!?!

You may have established an estate plan in the past, or you may not have gotten around to it, but it is critical that you ALWAYS have an up-to-date plan. 

Most people are smart enough to keep their car in good working order -- it requires oil changes, an annual physical check-up, etc. But I'm always surprised by the common misconception about how often they should have their estate plan reviewed.

You see, most people see estate planning as something you "do once" and never have to think about again. That's just flat incorrect. 

Just like your health can take a dramatic turn (for the better or worse) in a year, your estate planning decisions can change dramatically in a short period. Sometimes, something simple happens, such as an out-of-state move by the people you've identified to serve as the guardians for your minor children. That's just one of many good reasons to revisit your estate planning decisions.

Plus, though there's been a lot of talk in recent years about the higher estate tax threshold, there are many ways in which out-of-date plans can be "burned", by not complying with new laws.

Your estate plan is a "living and breathing" plan (at least when done right) and therefore has to be maintained to reflect your life as it is today. 

Second, PLEASE ensure you have chosen the proper executor. 

Whether you're dealing with significant sums, or with a more modest estate, choosing the person to handle these transactions is a critical decision for EVERY Salt Lake County family.

It's always a great idea to get professional advice in making these selections. But, if you choose to "go it alone" for some reason, here's what you need to keep in mind as you consider who will be your executor:

An executor must:   Read More...


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How Money Can Buy You Happiness

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 How Money Can Buy You Happiness

By Janet Behm, Utah Real Estate Accountants

Despite assertions to the contrary, science tells us that money can buy happiness. To a point. From a recent study (my emphasis):

We report an analysis of more than 450,000 responses to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, a daily survey of 1,000 US residents conducted by the Gallup Organization. […] When plotted against income, life evaluation rises steadily. Emotional well-being also rises with log income, but there is no further progress beyond an annual income of ~$75,000. For reference, the federal poverty level for a family of four is currently $25,100. Once you reach a little over 3 times the poverty level in income, you've achieved peak happiness, as least far as money alone can reasonably get you.

This is something I've seen echoed in a number of studies. Once you have "enough" money to satisfy the basic items at the foot of the Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs pyramid – that is, you no longer must worry about food, shelter, security, and perhaps having a bit of extra discretionary money for the unknown – stacking even more money up doesn't do much, if anything, to help you scale the top of the pyramid.

Read More...


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Utah REIA Diamond Sponsor Announced...

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The Utah REIA is excited to announce Reeder Asset Management as this year's Diamond sponsor. In learning about the founder, Cody Reeder, and the services provided by Reeder Asset Management, we found their experience, management philosophy, and empowering nature to be exemplary.

Below are a few paragraphs to help you become familiar with Cody Reeder and Reeder Asset Management:

Investor
Cody Reeder, a native of Logan, UT is the owner of Reeder Asset Management. His career in the Real Estate industry was fueled by the downsizing of his former life in the print-media market in the late 90's, and a late-night infomercial, from a restless night of trying to figure out ‘now what?’.

With the purchase of a duplex next to USU, the spark was lit. Since that first purchase nearly 20 years ago, he has built a personal portfolio of close to 200 units (utilizing the very concepts taught at the Utah each month) that include several commercial office buildings, two apartment complexes and numerous single-family homes, duplexes, triplexes etc. from Cache Valley to Salt Lake City. Read More...


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Legislative Update

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Seller Finance: The Seller Finance Coalition has moved its focus to the US Senate with an advocacy campaign requesting Senators to incorporate HR 1360 language into S 2155. Please be sure to send your email advocacy through National REIA's Action Center (on NREIA's website, under the legislative tab). There is a pre-drafted letter is for your convenience.
HUD Lead law update: On August 10, 2017 HUD issued a notice updating its Lead Safe Housing Rule (LSHR). This rule impacts all Public Housing Authorities, Project Based Properties, AND Housing Choice Vouchers, i.e. Section 8 vouchers. The rule increases the responsibilities of property owners who accept vouchers. Be sure to reach out to the Housing Authority to make sure that if you accept a voucher holder, you are working under the most up to date rules for notification and maintenance.
Tax Reform: Tax reform has started! The initial wave of tax reform has been passed, and as National REIA has pointed out there are positives and concerns. I won't say negatives yet, because we have to wait for the regulatory onslaught that is already underway by the IRS in "clarifying" what the House and Senate meant. One of the key areas we are focused on is the definition of full time job versus part time efforts. The designation or distinction could result in the awarding or loss of a 20% tax break for Pass-through entities like LLCs.
Housing Reform: the next wave of welfare reform is percolating in Washington DC and the focus is on limits to generational housing and unlimited housing for the able-bodied. With the economy moving and jobs-aplenty, the Republicans in Congress are ready for another bite at the apple of reform. Needless to say this will be neither quiet nor quick. As yet, only a few key principles such as 5-year limits to subsidized housing have been leaked out. There will be a lot more on this issue once the budget is actually passed and IF the GOP believes it will help them in the mid-term election.
Energy Benchmarking: LEEDs programs have taken on a new life of their own - not just as incentives for developers, but as a standard of efficiency by local elected officials appealing to their green constituents. Energy efficiency is a good thing, but there is a cost/benefit factor that needs to be considered, and that has been over-ridden by the folks claiming the earth is growing hotter, oops, no colder, oops climate change. Well the weather is changing, but in the Midwest where common sense still resides, we call it the Seasons. Needless to say, many of these efforts are on the coasts. There are alternatives to LEED and many are much more pragmatic. Consider Green Globes and Energy Star as examples. In fact, Chicago IL is considering an energy rating system which would require all buildings to have an energy benchmarking - with an Energy Star© system that is under re-evaluation and may be changing its own system. Benchmarking has its set of problems, and while adherents support the process as transparent, the unintended consequences may be decreased property values over and above the cost of the utilities involved.
Rent Control: California may be facing a rent control-style program to its ballot process by a group evolved from ACORN. Several Cities are also considering implementing similar plans. Ironically, even Bloomberg News is reporting on the ineffectiveness of Rent Control! (see article on Real Estate Investing Today.com) Additionally, California property owners are working through the impossible task of "proving the negative" by showing that they no longer have bed bugs if a unit was found to have them by a prior resident.
Inclusionary Zoning Requirements: numerous cities like Philadelphia, have been working on approving new zoning mandates for mixed income housing.
Evictions: Are the hottest issue to "address" by municipalities. The book "Eviction," has set the stage for an argument for making it more difficult to evict a resident. Yes, even if they have wasted their income, or spent their money on drugs - as repeatedly documented in the book, and lied to their landlord, repeatedly... somehow the accountability aspect of paying a bill, i.e. rent, should now be more difficult to enforce. Read the book. Be aware. Be ready for it to come to a community near you! One argument to make is to ask that rental contracts be handled similar to other installment payment agreements, like auto and home loans. If those are worthy of being broken, then the rent payment can as well...
Read More...


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Beware of False Service Animals

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One of the most effective public policy campaigns of the last few decades has been the one that taught us not to park in spaces reserved for the disabled.

A combination of robust public education and stiff penalties has helped make it universally understood that able-bodied persons should avoid parking cars there.

A newer push is underway to curb the growing practice of people passing their pets off as service animals. While most people associate the conflicts this practice presents with access to business - particularly restaurants - landlords are also increasingly impacted.

It’s not hard to see why so many people find it easy to commit this kind of self-serving fraud. The federal regulations governing the rights of individuals with disabilities to be accompanied by animals are murky. Three different federal laws govern this space and the result is an array of confusing and conflicting regulations.  Read More...


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Help! :) Student Housing Needed

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Each Spring/Summer the Home Depot invites students from other countries to work at the stores located in Sandy, Brickyard, and West Valley.

On March 27th the Sandy store will have 11 students arriving from the Philippines. At this time, they have no housing. Students will stay through June with a few staying until August 10th.

If you have a vacant house (preferably with utilities connected), this would be a perfect opportunity to get it rented for a short term. Each student plans to pay $300 per month and they would prefer to stay together, if possible.

Here are other requested guidelines from the Home Depot:
  • Close (walking, bike, or bus) to the Home Depot South Sandy (135 East 11400 South)
  • One bed per student (they can purchase their own air mattress if beds are not available)
  • Can sleep several to a room (last year 8 slept in one room with bunk beds)
  • Access to a bathroom and kitchen (can share with the rest of the household)
  • Owner is required to pick up students from the airport upon their arrival

If you are interested, please contact Danielle Lueck at (801) 523-0069 x 077 or send an e-mail to danielle_r_lueck@homedepot.com.

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Tax Reform Was Passed, Signed & Delivered

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As there has been a great deal of hype on all sides of tax reform, let’s see if we can dig into the issues with more light and less heat.  Hopefully you find this helpful and instructive on items that will no doubt have lasting ramifications and unintentional consequences for many years.  The summary: The reforms should be good for real estate, with tax advantages for pass-through entities improving.  Before making decisions based on tax reform, please be sure to speak with a tax accountant up to date on the all real estate rules, as those will be coming fast and furiously from the IRS!  To start, let’s get a quick understanding about “the process” and how we got here:

The rules in the Senate, specifically those about budget reconciliation drove the GOP Tax Reform process; or more perhaps accurately, hemmed it in.  The Senate rules would not allow not budgetary items to be included in the bill, though somehow the opening of the ANWR for oil drilling was deemed appropriate.  I say that not to be tongue in cheek or sarcastic, but to highlight that the rules of the Senate can be rather extensive and somewhat archaic.  Nothing illustrates that more the Byrd Bath, or Byrd Rule, named after Sen. Byrd of WV, who was prolific in his ability to ear mark projects (and have them named for him throughout the state).  This provision limits a budgetary item from being either “extraneous” to the budget or would significantly increase the federal deficit beyond a ten-year term.  Those definitions, and the reference to the 10-year life span of legislation for the Senate, are key. Read More...


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New Location Announced for Networking Luncheons

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As the success of the Utah REIA Networking Luncheons has exceeded the capacity at the Red Robin in Murray, starting December 12, 2017, the Utah REIA will be hosting the Networking Luncheons at the Salt Lake Community College, Miller Campus, Miller Free Enterprise Center (MFEC), Room #203 located at --9750 South 300 West, Sandy, UT 84070. 

What is so great about this facility is not only does it have room for growth, but it also provides more flexibility when it comes to lunch.  Not only will you have the opportunity to bring your own lunch, but there is also a full blown cafeteria (that opens as early as 6:30 a.m.and starts serving lunch at 11:00 a.m.) complete with hot food, a grill special, a salad bar, sandwiches, and a convenient store at the Culinary Institute building just down the parking lot.

Click here for a map of the Miller Campus.  


Feel free to grab your food early and join us at the MFEC in room #203 for networking beginning at 11:30 a.m.

The presentation will then begin at 12:00 p.m. and go until just about 1:00 p.m.leaving enough time for questions and prize give-aways.

If you have any questions regarding this change, feel free to contact Rebecca Dearing personally by calling or texting (801) 647-8862 or by sending an e-mail to rebecca@utahreia.org.

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