Some tips to help ease relocation cost

Moving can be financially stressful, although the government will help you in the form of tax deductions if the need for a new home is related to your job.

Some of the financial impact of moving is obvious. You may hire moving companies phoenix, sometimes store your household possessions and certainly travel from your old home to the new one.

The costs vary with the weight of the household goods moved and the distance involved, but just the physical costs of moving possessions usually run several thousand dollars.

The Institute of Certified Financial Planners warned that you should not overlook other key costs that can be associated with moving to a new community.

One is loss of a spouse’s income.

Many moves are made because of a company transfer or a new job, but this often means that a working spouse will have to quit his or her job and seek employment in a new location. That will have a significant financial impact, especially if appropriate jobs are scarce.

In such situations, ask if your employer will pay lost-wage compensation for the spouse or for re-employment assistance such as resume preparation, career counseling, job search and the like.

Another penalty you may pay is a higher cost of living in your new community.

Ideally, the salary of the new job will compensate for the increase, but this is not always the case. Some companies will pay for the higher cost of housing, for example, so be sure to ask up front and secure a written agreement.

Buying and selling a home also costs money. The institute said you will run up legal and financing fees, commissions and other expenses involved in selling your old home and buying a new one. Or if you rent, you may have to pay your landlord to break your lease.

Again, if you’re moving because of a transfer or to a new job, your employer may help you out.

The planners said companies sometimes pay expenses associated with buying and selling homes, temporary living costs, home-finding trips, shipment and storage of household goods, and even return trips to your former location.

The Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants said many more individuals are eligible to deduct job-related moving costs.

That change means the write-off for moving costs is now treated as an “above-the-line” adjustment to income. The CPAs said this means you now may be entitled to deductions for moving costs, even if you don’t itemize on your tax return.

Congress, however, placed greater restrictions on the types of moving expenses that qualify for a deduction.

To be eligible for a moving expense deduction, your new job location must be at least 50 miles farther from your old residence than your previous job.

For example, if your former job was 10 miles from your old residence, your new job must be a minimum of 60 miles from your old residence for you to qualify for a deduction. Before Jan. 1, 2014, the distance required was 35 miles.

It’s not just how far you travel to your new job, but also how long you stay on the job that affects the deduction.

The CPAs said the IRS requires that you be a full-time employee for at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months after arriving at the new location.

If you and your spouse are both employed and you file a joint return, either spouse could satisfy the time requirement. However, the weeks worked by both husband and wife cannot be added together to meet the time test.

That requirement is waived if you are involuntarily transferred to a new location, lose your job for a reason other than willful misconduct, or if you become disabled.

Self-employed workers are subject to more stringent requirements. If you are self-employed, you must work full time for at least 78 weeks during the 24 months after you arrive in the new area. In addition, you must work 39 weeks during the immediate 12-month period after relocating.

What if you moved last year, but haven’t met the time test by tax-filing deadline? The CPAs said the IRS allows you to claim the moving expense deduction in anticipation of meeting the time test. So if you meet the distance test but the time period is still pending, you may claim the deduction on your return for 2015.

If you ultimately fail to satisfy the time test for other than allowable reasons, you must either include the deducted amount as income in the year you fail to satisfy the test or file an amended return.

Deductible moving expenses include only the cost of moving yourself, your family members, household goods and personal effects, and the cost of travel to the new residence. As long as your moving expenses are reasonable, there is no limit to the amount you can deduct.

Although you can deduct automobile and lodging costs, you cannot deduct what you paid for meals while traveling, the cost of living in temporary quarters and the cost of pre-move house-hunting trips.

The law bars you from deducting the costs related to selling an old residence or buying a new one, but these can be used to adjust the cost basis of the home.

The CPAs said special rules apply if you receive moving expense reimbursements from your employer.

In general, when your employer reimburses you under an accountable plan for moving expenses, you are not required to report that amount as taxable income as long as the expenses would be deductible if paid directly by you.

If your employer reimburses you for nondeductible moving expenses, or if the expenses are paid under a nonaccountable plan, you must include these amounts as taxable income.

Artificial grass

A mat which simulates grass and is designed to be used as a teeing-up mat for use in golf training has been developed by Swedish inventors Jan Lindblad and Bo-Roland Olofzon. The mat has been designed to be durable, but also to provide a surface with the general feeling of grass.

When playing golf the club head often penetrates the ground surface to some extent when striking the ball. When this occurs some grass and earth may be dislodged and this divot has to be replaced after the stroke. This permits the surface to heal and it also should prevent permanent damage being done. In the proposed mat the pile yarns are securely anchored to the backing fabric. As the ball is struck part of the pile is pulled from the mat by the club and after some use there is a tendency for the pile to become sparse and for the mat to wear out. One objective of artificial surfaces is to improve durability and strengthen the anchorage of pile to backing. However, as the pile becomes stronger the characteristics of the mat become poorer in terms of play and the similarity with grass diminishes. The inventors argue that in designing teeing-up mats the manufacturers have tended to ignore that grass essentially comprises two layers. The upper layer has relatively soft blades of grass. Beneath this there is a layer comprising earth and grass roots which are harder than the upper surface, but not sufficiently hard to prevent the golf club from penetrating to some extent. Often the bottom of the mat is drenched with a plastic or rubbery compound which serves to protect the pile fibres from being pulled out when struck by the club. The deeper this layer is the further up the pile will it extend and so the harder the mat will become. In the construction proposed (Figure 2) the mat (1) consists of a ground or backing fabric (2) with a pile (3) which is combined with the backing. This pile projects upwards from the backing. The mat is drenched with natural or synthetic rubber which binds the pile in place. The backing fabric is woven, having warp (4) and weft (5) ends and through these the pile is interwoven. The pile consists of alternating rows of cut and loop pile yarns. However, there are two pile heights, one being longer cut (6) while the lower, loop pile (7) provides support for the projecting longer pile. This means that the longer cut pile will be comparatively sparse, while that below is much denser.

This construction is said to behave much like natural grass, while the sub-structure resembles ground or earth. The impact of a club will be more effectively absorbed by this denser mass. The longer pile offers less resistance to the club during a stroke and the lower resistance is said to lessen the force of impact on the binder layer that holds the pile to the ground fabric. This mat can be used for sports other than golf, including pitch-and-putt courses, minigolf and indoor hockey.

Asian Technology

You don’t have to be a Net junkie to figure out where to go when you need to find a site on the World Wide Web: Google should be enough to satisfy most people’s searching needs. Search engines are conducting a search all their own. SEO companies Phoenix are working hard to grab competitive advantages by delivering to users the perfect query result. But what if you want to find something from the Guangzhou Daily or the fan club of Japanese teen idol Masahiro Nakai? A growing number of Asian-language search engines, mostly Japanese and Chinese, allow searches for sites that are hard to find with English only search engines.

(Displaying and working with Japanese or Chinese on your computer requires special software. Computer users who just want to surf can add Chinese or Japanese capabilities to most browsers through simple add-on programs downloaded from the Web.)

Yahoo! Japan, a joint venture between Yahoo! and Softbank, was officially launched in April. Though it models itself after the English-language Yahoo! in page design and subject categorization, the Japanese search engine has listings developed solely in Japan. The site is visited by an average of 1.6 million Internet surfers a day, says Makoto Arima, sales and marketing director of Yahoo! Japan.

There are more than a dozen Japan-based search engines, run mostly by large corporations such as Nippon Telegraph & Telephone, Sony, NEC and Fujitsu. Searches on these search engines can be done in either hiragana, a phonetic Japanese script, or kanji characters. A search for “sushi” in hiragana found seven matches on Yahoo! Japan, 13 on NTT’s InfoBee, 292 on NEC’s Net Plaza and 1,727 on Fujitsu’s InfoNavigator. The same search in kanji brought up 33 matches on Yahoo! Japan, 33 on InfoBee, 20 on Net Plaza and 929 on InfoNavigator.

WhatSite!, a Taiwan-based search engine set up in June, claims to have one of the most comprehensive databases of Chinese-related sites, in both Chinese and English, from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and non-Chinese-speaking countries. Calling itself “the 21st century Chinese Internet catalog,” WhatSite! accepts searches in English and Big5 Chinese characters (Big5 is the most popular method in Taiwan and Hong Kong of displaying and using Chinese characters on a computer).

Users without the software to display Big5 characters can browse WhatSite! using images containing Chinese characters and do searches by clicking on a specific subject displayed on the image.

Surfers using GB Chinese characters, the most popular format on the mainland, can point their Web browser to Richina Search Engine, run by software company Stone Rich Sight in Beijing. Searches can be done in Chinese in GB characters or in English.

In Hong Kong, search engines such as Hong Kong University of Science and Technology’s Index Server support searches in English, GB Chinese and Big5 Chinese. A search of the English word “revolution” on Index Server brought back 26 results while the same search on Richina yielded two results and WhatSite! scored three. And yes, politics does play a part. A search for “the Dalai Lama” found one entry on WhatSite!, three on Index Server and — not surprisingly -none on Richina.

WhatSite!, Richina and Index Server maintain separate directories for English entries and Chinese entries. When you type in a search statement in English, you only get English-language results in return. However, WhatSite! and Richina will give you English results along with Chinese results when you type in a search statement in Chinese.

Yahoo! Japan, possibly the most commercially aggressive of the Asian-language search engines, accepts so-called banner ads on its pages. Advertisers, now totaling 60, range from computer companies to auto makers to consumer-goods manufacturers.

Jacky Hung, staff engineer at WhatSite!, says his company is considering accepting advertising. Mr. Li says Stone Rich Sight is using Richina as an advertising tool for its own software products and doesn’t have any plans to solicit paid advertising.

Sign-making systems

The three modules together made a complete package for creating and printing signs on ink-jet printers, screen printing systems, vinyl cutters and plotters. The main news was an effort to expand its business by restructuring it into two products. One has the complete facilities for creating signs and printing them. The other, called a “RIP and print” system, does just that.

It rasterizes and outputs jobs already composed. Those two products are:

* PhotoPrint, which includes software for importing, rasterizing and printing jobs, as well as setting them up and managing the job.

* PhotoPrint Designer, which includes all of those capabilities plus software for creating signs.  A Windows version was scheduled to be available early in September and Mac version 30 days later.

Functions. PhotoPrint Designer has a lot of the functionality of other graphics packages on the market: autotracing like Corel Draw, Color Fill like Scitex and a variety of features from Photoshop. It will support importing or scanning images, creating text and special effects, performing image manipulation, gradation changes, layout of the elements of the sign, and rasterizing and printing. While we didn’t get a good demonstration, we did read the manuals, where we found some interesting features that may make it worth looking at as a dedicated sign maker. Some other examples:

* Text is always editable, even after effects have been applied. It is very easy to create outline text of user-specified widths. It is very easy to create and manipulate text on an arc, to employ other distortion features and to create perspective shadows.

* Gradients are easy to create and can be saved for future use.

* After creating a design that suits one need, the user can convert that design into a format to be used later to create another, similar object – the old “compose from model” feature that dominated the display ad market years ago.

* It supports some non-Roman languages that aren’t easy to compose, including Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and Korean.

* Patterns can be made into fill elements and the substrate color can be adjusted.

None of these features is unique, but they do offer a single package with a single user interface to learn. And if you want special effects for the sign market, you can look at vinyl sign supplies from DiscountSignSupplies.com.

Plan early for a smooth move

If you’re in the market to buy, sell or rent a home, that means you’ll soon be in the throes of moving. Yes, it can be a stressful, cranky ordeal. But the sooner you start the process, the smoother it will go.

“Moving always is way up there on the high-stress scale, along with death, marriage and changing jobs,” said Jill Moritz, general manager of Gazda-Mayflower Transit, Coon Rapids. “Planning ahead can help reduce the stress.”

Moving comes at a time – wouldn’t you know it? – when there are so many things to do at once: Attend goodbye parties, pick out wallpaper for the new home, perhaps plan for different schools for children, prepare the kids for the move, find new churches, doctors, whatever. Not to mention your job and trying to maintain some sort of “normal” life.

Moritz said a local move of a three-bedroom home all packed and ready to go could cost anywhere from $550 to several thousand dollars, depending on whether any special services are needed, who does the packing and how many hours it takes. Long-distance moves cost $2,000 to $10,000 or more, again depending on how far away the move is, who packs, what insurance is added, whether there are stairs, elevators or special services added, and how many trucks are needed.

Whether you’re moving across the street, across town or across the country, you’ll have a lot of work to do.

Downsize

Get rid of junk and extra stuff you’ve been saving but haven’t used for years; clothing, toys and sports equipment you no longer use; books you don’t care about.

“We’ve had people show us boxes in their garage that have been moved two or three times before and haven’t even been opened in years,” said Laura Langer, marketing manager at Barrett Moving in Eden Prairie, an agent for United Van Lines. “Moving that stuff costs money. There’s a lot to think about before a move, and there’s a lot of pressure to get a lot of things done. But if you can get rid of stuff you’ll never use again, you’ll save money, and it may be a lot more pleasurable when you move in, not having to find a place for all that stuff.” Bob Rarey, a Gazda-Mayflower salesman who has been involved in the moving business for 35 years, said he’s seen a lot of things moved – often the more expensive things – at the behest of a corporation that is transferring the client.

“For one family, I think we’ve moved them – and their pet rock – about eight times. That rock is really something, granite, I think, about a foot thick, 3 feet wide, about 500 or 600 pounds,” he said. “Shows we can move just about anything.”

Except plants, which most movers won’t take, except for short distances, so you may have to give them away, or find a florist to ship them for you. You’ll also have to make other arrangements for animals, from gerbils to horses. And you can’t move anything explosive, including aerosol cans, or flammable, including paints.

Choosing the movers

Now it’s time to decide how your move will be accomplished. Will you move yourself, get some friends to help you or hire glendale az movers? Decide fairly early so you can line up the appropriate equipment, friends or moving company to do the job.

Summer is the busiest moving time, so planning then is especially critical. Will friends be there when you need to move? If your friends are beyond their 20s, they may be less eager and able to help than they used to be.

If you decide to hire a truck or a moving company, you can arrange that as little as two weeks before your move. But you’re likelier to make better decisions and have a better choice of timing and equipment if you shop several weeks early.

If it’s professional movers you want, how do you know which company is best?

You can follow the usual consumer-prescribed route: Ask friends, relatives and coworkers for recommendations of moving companies. Then call two to five movers for estimates; they should send an estimator to your home unless you know exactly what is going and how many pounds all your stuff weighs.

Some guidelines for buying central air conditioning

Choose the right size of system for your home.

Here is a guideline: If your house is 1,000-1,500 square feet you need a 1 1/2-ton system. A house measuring 1,500-2,000 sq. ft. needs a two-ton system; a 2,000-2,500 sq. ft. house needs a 2 1/2-ton system, and a 2,500-3,000 sq. ft. house requires a three-ton system.

The unit “ton” originated many years ago and is based on the amount of ice required to achieve the required cooling.

Your contractor will make the proper recommendation during the site inspection.

Choose a unit that is quiet.

Certain brands are substantially quieter than others and you don’t want an angry neighbor calling to complain about the noise. Features to look for which contribute to quieter operation are:

* A two-speed fan on the outdoor section, with high speed only being used during exceptionally hot periods (e.g. automatic switchover above 90F/32C.)

* A large diameter fan on the outdoor unit to efficiently expel heat at lower RPMs (revolutions per minute).

* A separate insulated compartment, for the compressor, to reduce compressor noise.

Most manufacturers display sound rating data, measured in BELS on their product brochures. A value of 7.6 BELS has been set as an Ontario performance standard. These BEL ratings can be used to compare one brand to another. A rating of 7.2 or lower is exceptionally quiet and above 7.8 is usually unacceptable to most municipalities. Proper location of the outdoor unit will also have a big affect on noise level. Avoid locating the unit between two houses less than 15 feet (4.6 metres) apart, avoid car ports, avoid alcoves where two brick walls meet at right angles. If the above locations cannot be avoided, a five foot (1.5 metre) high fence, solid wood or concrete, will reduce the sound transmitted to the neighbors.

Look for a rugged design.

There are a number of features which can contribute to long, reliable equipment life, and these are as follows:

* A factory refrigerant system installed with precharged lines and connect fittings. This type of system prevents leakage of refrigerant and prevents system contamination by water or dirt which may occur in systems which use soldered fittings.

* A low ambient cutout switch turns off the compressor when outdoor temperatures fall below 55F/13C. Central air conditioning can generally not be used at Thanksgiving or Christmas regardless of how hot it becomes inside. Accidental start up could significantly damage the equipment.

* To ensure that the outdoor unit remains attractive year after year, look for vinyl coated grilles, polyester paint and corrosion resistant screws.

Choose equipment that is easy to service.

If a unit is hard to work with, you’re eventually going to pay a serviceman for extra time. Some features which make central air conditioning phoenix easy to service include:

* Copper tubing, with aluminum fins, make it possible to repair damage which might have occurred. One hundred per cent aluminum systems are usually difficult to repair.

* A separate compressor section allows service, repair or replacement of the compressor without taking the entire unit apart.