Some DC Homeowner Tax Hacks

319 R St NW, 20001Yes, I know it is a click-baity title but bear with me, I got some good stuff.

1- Get your property taxes deferred. Single? Do you make less than $50K a year? Then you may be able to get a deferment. Unfortunately this doesn’t look like the same deferment I had. Those were 5 wonderful years of not paying any property tax, then one year, I made about $500 too much, and that was the end of that. It looks like you fill out the second (1st half is for old people) part of form FP-110.

2- Are you 65 years or older OR do you receive SSDI? Pay less on your property taxes than those suckers with just a Homestead Deduction. Go to the forms page, fill out FP-100.

3- Did you for some odd reason not take the $5000 if you bought during or before 2011, the 1st time homeowner tax credit? Really? That was just free money. Since there can’t be too many people that qualify for this, I’m going to move on.

4- Do you make $20K or less? You don’t have to be a homeowner for this, renters can qualify. On your DC state income tax, fill out Schedule H, you’ll get a credit.

 

Power to the People: Let Residents Ticket

DC has an enforcement problem. Illegal construction. Residency for DC Schools. Traffic. Parking. Just having a law on the books does not solve the problem. Also there are activities that local MPD won’t deal with unless they observe the illegal action with their own eyes. So calling 911 a dozen times won’t result in diddly or squat. It is very frustrating.

Part of the problem is the city has decided that only the city can enforce its laws. Well that would be great if it did.

Van illeagally parkedI have a suggestion. Empower DC residents to ticket. Have DC residents provide the kind of evidence that would be admissible in court, via an app specifically for parking violations that would guide the citizen in what kind of images are needed to prove the parking violation. There are hundreds of cyclists who would love to ticket the various cars and delivery trucks that take up bike lanes. There may be several dozen people who would to ticket… and tow (if they could) the cars that park in their individually assigned handicap parking spots, as well those blocking curb cuts.

Maybe when the city actually enforces the law, with its own people, a contractor charging millions, or Lord forbid its own citizens, maybe people will actually respect and follow the law.

Can Cops and Teachers live in subsidized housing?

The Advoc8te who runs Congress Heights on the Rise pointed out a problem with income limited or affordable housing in DC. That has continue to bug me, because for years at community meetings when ‘workforce’ housing is trotted out residents are told it would allow government workers such as police and teachers to live in the communities they serve. Then when I see the income limits and then look at the starting salaries for DC police and teachers, I think, I’ve been lied to.
Sign- Join DC MPD I decided to just glance at what DC pays its teachers and police. Almost all government employees’ salaries are public, mine, my spouse’s, my cousin who makes a quarter of a million, it’s no secret, so I can actually see what DC pays. Grade school teachers, not teachers aides, not substitute teachers, nor administrative staff, if they’ve been teaching 3-4 years at least, are in the $60-70K range. There is a school librarian making six figures, as a fellow librarian, I say good for them. I didn’t pay much attention to MPD salaries, but officers are making over $60K. That makes sense if this poster is true and the pay starts at $55,362. If a teacher and cop fall in love, a la rom-com adventure, they’re making six figures as one household if they marry.

Okay, let’s get back to housing and income limits. There are a couple of key things you have to keep in mind, household size and AMI, area median income or MFI, median family income.

2018 income limits for DC Say Anna works for a non-profit and makes $40K, and there is a new affordable housing development with studios and 1 bedrooms that’s at 50% and 60% AMI/MFI. She might be able to get a studio at 60% MFI, but not at 50%. She makes too much at 50%. But if Anna was a single mom, a household of 2, aiming for a 1 bedroom (I don’t remember the rules about this), she would qualify at 50%. Looking at this table, and going on my memory,  the DC government employees who could qualify are school custodians, teacher’s aides, and some DC Public Library staff. The city doesn’t pay our librarians enough.

BACA on Langston School

100_0404.JPGThe Langston School on the unit block of P St NW has been vacant, and crumbling for years, possibly decades. The building is in such bad condition, charters who get 1st dibs on DC school buildings have given it a hard pass.

So after decades of nothing from the city, the Bates Area Civic Association (BACA) has decided to attempt to tackle the problem.  Take a look at the BACA Resolution in Support of Development Proposal for Langston School. To sum it up, BACA says it has been vacant for too long and is hurting the surrounding area, and maybe the National Peace Corps Association seems interested in it, please let them buy it.

 

Suing the city about daycare regs

The only reason why I’m curious about this is because I am a consumer of DC daycare, which is already expensive. I’m spending about $1500 a month, which I know is way cheaper than what some of my neighbors are spending on nanny shares and other daycare facilities. I’ve been told the wonderful women who care for the Babyman and his friends aren’t paid enough. The city decided that the lovely ladies need a college degree. I’m not sure who’s going to absorb that cost. As I mentioned, daycare is already f’ing expensive.

So there is a mom and two day care providers are suing the city, OSSE exactly, regarding the new regulations for childcare workers. Pictured is Ms. Sanchez who has a daycare in her home and claims the new regulation would put her out of business. My heart goes out to the parents who use her services, ’cause daycare waitlists ’round here are horrid. As soon as you are pregnant, find a daycare, get on their waitlist.

So I’m curious about this case. I’m also curious about increases in childcare costs to pay for the degree. I really hope we don’t lose the women Babyman seems most attached to at his daycare, but it is likely that will happen.

Be a troublesome smart voter

So the Primary election is June 19th, and since the District is basically a one party town it’s sort of the main election. With that you may have noticed traffic islands and lamp posts littered with campaign signs. One day riding out to the Costco, I noticed this sign.

My thought was, so this guy is going after the stupid vote. Before you get on my case hear me out.

The first thing to grab my attention was “Cut property tax for 65 and older.” There is already a program in place for that. Go to the tax office’s website and see about three programs for old people. The first is the Senior Citizen Homestead Deduction, here is the application for that (PDF). The second is Senior Citizen/ Disabled Owner Property Tax Relief. For that the whole household income must be less than $130,550, I guess you have to OTR call about that one. The third one is the Tax Deferral For Low-Income Senior Property Owners And Low-Income Property Owners. This one has strings, and I don’t trust it, but here’s where you’d find the application. So vote for Mari Inshaw, city wide, she’ll point out stuff you already have. It’s like he’s depending on voters not to know about these programs.

The other things are beyond a newbie (heck even at times an experienced) legislator’s ability. It seems that it depends on the voter believing that the council person can perform magic, such as pulling affordable housing out of a hat.

I say be a troublesome smart voter. Your vote is worth more than empty promises and stuff you already have regifted back to you.

Can DC be sued for gentrification?

So the District of Columbia is getting sued for gentrification.

Because of Kelo v City of New London, this probably won’t go very far.

For those who don’t remember or know, Kelo v New London was an eminent domain case where the City of New London, CT took the private property, the homes, of residents of an area of town

This is an image from Little Pink House, a movie.

so a developer could build a headquarters for the Pfizer Corporation. Ms. Susette Kelo and others sued the city, sued to protect the homes they owned, from the city taking them away and displacing them. Long story short, Ms. Kelo lost and her home was torn down. There is a movie about it out now and it will be at the E Street Theater June 1-7, and tickets go on sale on May 30.

So just as a man can legally divorce his wife and remarry a younger model, a city can take away your home and give/sell the land to a richer, more economically attractive entity. If that is so, then the District of Columbia can take properties it owns or has an interest in, or doesn’t own at all through eminent domain and give/sell them to more economically attractive entities. Unless there is something on DC’s books actually saying it can’t, but the city can undo its own rules. So I don’t think this lawsuit has a chance.

I’ve noticed there is this mindset that the city has an obligation to care for its poor over that of other interests. In my book club, our next book How to Kill a City, has this same mindset. The author seems annoyed that Detroit or any other city would choose economic development over its poorest citizens.

City governments, like DC, have their own interests. Cities, do not like being broke.  They don’t like even looking broke. They like being gleaming shining examples of whatever is in fashion with local governments these days. However classics like low crime, lots of ‘good’ jobs, and great schools never go out of style and governments will aim for those goals over others.

OSSE please continue to investigate, but do it right

When I’m feeling particularly lazy and the Help is willing, he will drive me to work. On the way there we pass by a charter school where I play a game, reading license plates. In previous years there were more Maryland license plated cars dropping off kids at KIPP. But as there is more attention paid to suburban parents using DC taxpayer funded schools, there are slightly fewer MD cars dropping off kids at KIPP in the morning. But there are still enough to warrant a closer look.

I was happy when I saw that the city was looking into one premier DC public school. Good start, I thought, thinking it was only a matter of time before the city worked their way over to KIPP. The waitlist for KIPP on P Street is way too long for MD kids to be taking spots from DC kids.

Recently, some Duke Ellington School of the Arts parents and guardians who received letters from OSSE about residency requirements sued, as is their right. Apparently the city violated its own policy. I also sympathize with having to deal with bureaucratic stupidity. However, I have witnessed too many morning drop offs of kids from Maryland and Virginia cars in front of DC charter schools, so there are parents committing fraud.

Above me on my bookshelf are the ashes of a woman who committed a similar fraud 30 odd years ago with the Help. My late mother and father in laws used a friend’s address to get the Help in better school because the high school for their address was supposedly drug infested. And recently on a message board I read about a Maryland school system calling area landlords to confirm addresses. It seems people are using fake leases. I understand the reason why. But no kid who actually lives in the District of Columbia should lose out to kids who have representation in Congress.

A better argument would have been for the suburbs to step up

So the Post has another feel bad about gentrification opinion piece that appeared in Sunday’s print version but has been on-line for several days. Reading “Poverty is Moving to the Suburbs but the On Poverty Didn’t“, I almost think the author is trying to argue that poor suburbanites should use DC resources.

No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No.

My ire burns and seethes every time I see a car with Maryland tags drop off a kid in front of a DC charter school. If Maryland parents like DC charters so damned much they should fight for tons of them in Maryland. It’s not just schools, it’s other services that DC taxpayers support and Maryland citizens, who have the privilege of a vote in both houses of Congress, something DC voters lack. It does not help that many DC government workers live in the suburbs, it may have them forgetting about boundaries. In some cases, boundaries don’t or can’t matter, like foster care* and libraries**. I’m not against co-operation between the Districts and the burbs, but like WMATA, the costs need to be shared.

Or/and suburban areas need to step up. Where they can’t do it themselves, they need to partner with the District or other suburban where it makes sense. But Maryland or Virginia residents using DC agencies as if they were DC residents is wrong. The suburbs have something to offer DC, there are welding classes out there, but not here. We can all help each other out, but each government needs to be accountable to and responsible for their own citizens.

 

*There are many DC kids with Maryland foster families.

**Some systems allow for people who work in the area to apply for cards and privileges.

3 Great things about Bradley A. Thomas, who happens to be running for the Ward 5 seat

Bradley A Thomas on roof

So my ANC Bradley A. Thomas is running for Kenyon McDuffie’s Ward 5 seat. I have mixed feelings, mainly because I don’t want to lose a good ANC. But if you don’t know anything about Bradley Thomas, here are three things that I think makes him a great guy.

1. He’s competent. That might not seem like a great thing, but when you’ve had or observed ANCs who weren’t, especially when you were trying to work on something that required a semi-functional ANC, it is a big deal. This is why I don’t want to lose him to the rest of the ward. At the last BACA meeting I did ask him what was meant by ‘affordable housing’ and he knew the government definition along with a general idea of what incomes fell into the target categories.

2. He’s honest or he doesn’t sell you B.S.- Yes, he will tell really bad dad jokes, but I noticed he won’t always tell you what you want to hear but what you need to hear in order to achieve the best possible goal. A great example of this was with the store at 3rd and P that wanted a liquor license and the neighbors up in arms against it. The store operators had a advisor/attorney so familiar with the ABRA license process, that a license was almost a given. The neighbors, included a faction that believed their mere opposition was enough to deny a license. Bradley, could have told those neighbors what they wanted to hear but he didn’t. He reminded resident’s how the system worked and aimed for the best case scenario given what residents (who weren’t going to hire their own lawyer & Bradley is a lawyer) were up against.

3. He has worked to make the neighborhood better for all residents. Really early on he was one of many people who helped make the reconstruction of the Florida Avenue Park reality. Before it was a park for homeless and drug dealers, not for children, regardless of the playground equipment. Now old-timers hold court in one section, basketball players are on the courts, parents and their children get the playground area, and the residents of the co-op don’t have to live with a criminal element under their windows. He has kept an eye out for opportunities, where the neighborhood could take advantage.

I probably should mention, Bradley nor anyone from his campaign didn’t pay me to write this. I’m just home with the flu and figured I should post something.

Bradley A. Thomas
Website- https://www.bradleythomas4dc.com/
Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/bradleythomas4dc/
Twitter- https://twitter.com/bradleythomasdc/

Oh #4-His name is not a color.