Saturday, April 19, 2014

NOLO's Every Landlord's Tax Deduction Guide (10th Ed.) by Stephen Fishman

The blurb:
If you own residential rental properties, you will want to know all about the valuable deductions you are entitled to take as landlord.  Every Landlord's Tax Deduction Guide is the only book that focuses exclusively on tax deductions for landlords.

Find out how to:
deduct casualty and theft losses
deduct rental losses
deduct home office, car, travel and meals
keep proper tax records - and much more

The book also explains how to fill out the Schedule E and clarifies the complicated new IRS rules on repairs and improvements.  Filled with practical advice and real-world examples, Every Landlord's Tax Deduction Guide will save you money by making sure you owe less to the IRS at tax time.

As a small landlord, I'm always looking for helpful and practical advice, particularly if it helps with taxes, expenses or property management.  I had planned to share this review before April 15, in the hope that it would prove helpful to other small landlords.  Unfortunately, as it got closer to April 15, I ran out of time! 

So for those of you who did get extensions or are looking into help for the next tax season, I'm hoping that you'll have time to read Every Landlord's Tax Deduction Guide.

I've been summarizing particularly helpful chapters for myself and my partners.  But it's the sort of book that's helpful to read through once and keep on hand as specific incidents occur.  
Every Landlord's Tax Deduction Guide is divided into 20 chapters.  The Guide begins with an explanation of how landlords are taxed and list which taxes specifically apply to landlord investors and those that actively manage their properties ("business owner").  The guide then discusses the requirements that must be met before operating expenses can be considered deductible and a discussion of the operating expenses that are not deductible.  The next chapters discuss how the IRS treats repairs to the property and compares their tax treatment to that of improvements to the property.  Subsequent chapters discuss in detail the more complicated deduction of depreciation, interest, start-up expenses, travel expenses, car and transportation expenses, labor expenses (differentiating between employees and independent contractors), as well as casualty and theft losses.  What I particularly appreciated about The Guide is that it flags the IRS forms and publications that are relevant to specific complicated situations, such that I know what to research and I need to file when specific situations occur.  

Also much appreciated are the chapters on record keeping and accounting as well as the final chapter which covers information from the IRS and various online resources.  

Every Landlord's Tax Deduction Guide is well worth the $35 that I'd paid for it. I am encouraging my landlord friends to get copies for themselves. 

  • ISBN-10: 1413319270 - Paperback $35
  • Publisher: NOLO; Tenth Edition edition (November 29, 2013), 536 pages.

About the Author:
  • Stephen Fishman has dedicated his career as an attorney and author to writing useful, authoritative and recognized guides on taxes and business law for entrepreneurs, independent contractors, freelancers and other self-employed people, as well as books on copyright law and the public domain. He is the author of over 20 books and hundreds of articles, and has been quoted in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and many other publications. He lives in Alameda, California with his wife.
    His website is at

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Blog Tour - Children of the Revolution: An Inspector Banks Novel by Peter Robinson

Welcome to the blog tour of Peter Robinson's latest Alan Banks novel, "Children of the Revolution."

The blurb:
The body of disgraced college lecturer Gavin Miller is found on an abandoned railway line by a woman out walking her dog early one winter morning. In the four years since Miller's dismissal for sexual misconduct, he's been living like a hermit, listening to music from his college days and existing as frugally as possible on the outskirts of a small village.  So where did he get the five thousand pounds found in his pocket?

Leading the investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks begins to suspect that the victim's past may be connected to his death.  Forty years earlier the dead man attended a university that was a hotbed of militant protest and divisive, bitter politics.  And as the seasoned detective well knows, some grudges are never forgotten-- or forgiven.

Just as Banks is about to break the case open, his superior warns him to back off or risk losing the promotion he has been promised.  Yet Banks isn't about to stop, even if it means risking his career altogether.  He's certain that there's more to the mystery that meets the eye, and more skeletons to uncover before the case can finally be closed.

Inspector Alan Banks is gifted investigator who doesn't always follow the proper procedure.  He doesn't look for clues or take the traditional detective's route to piece together the story behind a death.    When he's called in to look at Gavin Miller's broken body,  Banks can't tell whether Gavin jumped to his death or was thrown - suicide, accident or murder? 

Banks goes beyond the cash found on the victim and his isolated, hermit like existence.  By exploring Miller's tastes in books and music, his old friends and his youth, Banks finds another side of Gavin Miller, one long hidden.   His team of women detectives have their own skills and weaknesses and the diverse personalities give the book another layer of humor, tension, and personality.  There's DI Annie Cabot, forceful, often angry, more apt to confront a witness than to tease out the truth.  But for all of Annie's emotional and aggressive approach, she has a gift of being able to sift through lies to the truth.  Gerry Masterson, the beautiful, young researcher who is willing to go beyond the usual boundaries for Inspector Banks, trusting his integrity and instincts.  DS Winsome Jackman,  who has put up with all sorts of prejudice and hurdles as a large black woman in the police force and is still gentle, patient, willing to listen until an unlikely witness shares a painful secret.

It's the willingness to dig, to listen, to search for unlikely secrets that makes this team unusual.  Their digging takes them to a time of upheaval, of striking miners, of rebellious students, of hope for the revolution.  Peter Robinson gives us a complicated mystery, complex characters, and a satisfying read. 

  • ISBN-10: 0062240501- Hardcover $25.99
  • Publisher: William Morrow (March 25, 2014), 352 pages.
  • Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

About the Author:
Peter Robinson's award-winning Inspector Banks novels have been named a "Best Book of the Year" by Publishers Weekly, a "Notable Book" by the New York Times, and a "Page Turner of the Week" by People.  Robinson was born and brought up in Yorkshire, and now divides his time between North America and the U.K.

CHILDREN OF THE REVOLUTION is available now at Amazon | B&N IndieBound 

Enter the contest for a chance to win a hard cover of Children of the Revolution!" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wake: A Novel by Anna Hope

The blurb:
Wake: 1) Emerge or cause to emerge from sleep. 2) Ritual for the dead. 3) Consequence or aftermath.
London, 1920. The city prepares to observe the two-year anniversary of Armistice Day with the burial of the unknown soldier. Many are still haunted by the war: Hettie, a dance instructress, lives at home with her mother and her brother, who is mute after his return from combat. One night Hettie meets a wealthy, educated man and finds herself smitten with him. But there is something distracted about him, something she cannot reach. . . . Evelyn works at the Pensions Exchange, through which thousands of men have claimed benefits from wounds or debilitating distress. Embittered by her own loss, she looks for solace in her adored brother, who has not been the same since he returned from the front. . . . Ada is beset by visions of her son on every street, convinced he is still alive. Helpless, her loving husband has withdrawn from her. Then one day a young man appears at her door, seemingly with notions to peddle, like hundreds of out-of-work veterans. But when he utters the name of her son, Ada is jolted to the core.
The lives of these three women are braided together, their stories gathering tremendous power as the ties that bind them become clear, and the body of the unknown soldier moves closer and closer to its final resting place.

Three women must find a way to cope with the ravages of the Great War.  Hettie, a dance instructress, lives with her mother and a brother suffering from shellshock.  She meets a mysterious and wealthy stranger.  Evelyn comes from a privileged family and chooses to work at the Pension Exchange as a way to deal with the loss of her fiance during World War I.  Evelyn suffers the anger and frustration of veterans and deals with them dispassionately until a private comes into the Pension Exchange searching for someone that she knows well.  Evelyn looks for meaning through her brother, also damaged by the War.  Ada, the mother, cannot stop seeing her son Michael.  Ada imagines Michael everywhere she goes and her life comes apart when a young man comes into her house and says Michael's name.

The suspenseful moments in Wake were well done and Anna Hope conveys the women's suffering effectively with economy, but I didn't feel drawn to the characters.  If you are fascinated by the effects of World War I, you might enjoy Wake.

  • ISBN-10: 0812995139 - Hardcover $26
  • Publisher: Random House (February 11, 2014), 304 pages. 
  • Review copy courtesy of the publisher and the Amazon Vine Reviewers Program.