Your Low-Tax Dream House: A New Approach to Slashing the Cost of Home Ownership

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9780942679076: Your Low-Tax Dream House: A New Approach to Slashing the Cost of Home Ownership
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Covers tax assessment, location, timing, house design, heating and cooling systems, manufactured housing, remodeling, and state property tax systems

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About the Author:

Steve Carlson, a regular contributor to Bottom Line Personal, has been an elected property tax assessor, a congressional staffer, a journalist, and a contributing editor to the Journal of Light Construction.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction: Low Taxes and Affordability

When my wife and I began planning our dream house a few years ago, we wanted a great place to live for the rest of our lives. However, we didnt want to become locked into high costs for the rest of our lives.

Therefore, our dream house had to come with a modest mortgage, low taxes, low maintenance, and low energy costs.

We read every book we could find on construction techniques and energy efficiency. We also looked for information on how to hold down property taxes, but we couldnt find any. That seemed puzzling, since property taxation is one of the largest costs of home ownership.

We began our own research to find ways to reduce our tax burden without sacrificing the quality of life in our dream house. As it turned out, that was a piece of cake. Ideas for property-tax reduction were sitting around, waiting to be discovered.

We also made a serendipitous discovery. Many of the decisions made to hold down taxes also helped us to hold down mortgage payments, energy costs, and maintenance. In short, a low-tax strategy became the basis for an affordability strategy.

Once our dream house was completed, we didnt stop. Wed saved so much money that we bought a run-down house to remodel as rental propertytesting new ideas for low taxation and total affordability. The project was so successful that we have been building or remodeling houses ever since.

We have been able to test our theories and findings in urban, suburban, and rural locations. Fine-tuning was needed to accommodate local conditions, but the result each time was a great house with low initial and continuing costs.

Meanwhile, I was elected as lister (local tax assessment official) in my home town. Thats a thankless job, and I quickly decided not to make a career of it. However, it gave me a broader perspective on how tax assessment works in practice, compared to how it works in theory.

For the last year-and-a-half, Ive been researching property tax systems throughout the United States. The lack of prior research has been a constant source of astonishment. Time and again, property tax officials responded to simple questions by saying, Gosh, Ive never been asked about that before.

This book explains the low-tax strategies that have worked well for us. It also compiles nationwide property tax information, so that you can adjust those strategies to your local assessment system.

I should emphasizeto avoid any misunderstanding that may be caused by the titlethat the theme of this book is affordability, not just holding down taxes. Even in places blessed with spectacularly low tax rates, the strategies in this book should help to reduce, substantially, all costs of home ownership.

The information will be most useful to those who are building or remodeling a dream house. However, I hope that it will also be useful to anybody else who is struggling with the high costs of home ownership. Knowing the optimal ways to hold down costs should help you to take advantage of features of the house where you live now, or the existing house that you may purchase.

One final note: there are many excellent books that explain the conventional wisdoms of cost-cutting. Before you begin a building or remodeling project, I hope you will read as many of them as possible. This book does not attempt to replicate the work of other authors; it concentrates on the information and insights that you will not be able to find anywhere else.

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9780942679069: Your Low-Tax Dream House: A New Approach to Slashing the Costs of Home Ownership

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Publisher: Upper Access Book Pub, 1989
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