Category Archives: Outside the Box

I Called 911 on Paul Revere

Lexington, MA – Patriots Day – The Reinactment – The Parade … It’s something Lexingtonians experience annually, as tourists flock to town, historic episodes get played out on our streets, and everyone senses the importance of our piece of America history. Our well-worn traditions of family time, parades, fun-runs, pancake breakfast, dressing up in Colonial attire, repeating the ritual year after year … stories told and re-told… it’s the repetition of our history that makes us feel like we belong here.

However! Spin back 22+ years ago, and I have a little confession to make. I called 911 on Paul Revere.

It’s not entirely my fault. Being from Colorado I grew up studying about the Colorado Gold Rush, the Oregon Trail, and Spanish explorers, Native American tribes and cultures. I knew about mining and settling the wild west. What did I know about Colonial history?
As a relative newcomer to New England, and avid listener of NPR radio (rather than local Boston or Lexington Minuteman news), I was not, shall we say, up to the minute about hyper-local events!

Being a single mother with single focus of work and raising my young daughter, only living in Lexington for 9 months, I was taken aback early one morning in April 1991, when I got up to get a drink of water at my kitchen sink. Still dark out, I gazed on to Mass Avenue drinking my water when suddenly I was horrified to see a MAN ON A HORSE with A GUN in front of my house! I immediately grabbed my telephone (land line connected to the wall at the time) and called 911!

The man at the police station answered right away and said “Lexington Police – This Call Is Being Recorded”.
I yelled “There’s a man outside my house on a horse with a gun. He’s a Terrorist! Send the police!”

…. beep … beep … silence

I repeated myself emphatically: “You have to send someone right away! There’s a terrorist in front of my house on Mass Ave, and he’s got a GUN. He’s on a HORSE!” The man was not seeming to be hearing what I was saying.

The serious voice said, “Lady, do you know what DAY this is?”

Well, no I did not know what day this was, and it took him awhile to talk me down from my tree. Apparently I was hard to convince, and they may still be laughing down at the police department. The moral of the story is, it was my first year in Lexington, and as a newcomer I’d managed to miss all the cues leading up to this town-wide theatre event. It took a whole day to sink in, and incidentally we could not make it out of our driveway due to the clowns, horses, marching bands, floats, bicycles, and everything else that made up the hours-long parade of Patriots Day which marched right by our house. This newcomer from Colorado was delighted and relieved, as was my daughter who thought the whole thing was very funny, knowing that early that morning I called the police on Paul Revere.

Make sure you don’t get caught by surprise this year. Check the schedule here:

paul revere

3.8% Tax Myths Clarified

Ever since health care reform was enacted into law more than two years ago, rumors have been circulating on the Internet and in e-mails that the law contains a 3.8 percent tax on real estate. NAR quickly released material to show that the tax doesn’t target real estate and will in fact affect very few home sales, because it’s a tax that will only affect high-income households that realize a substantial gain on an asset sale, including on a home sale, once other factors are taken into account. Maybe 2-3 percent of home sellers will be affected.

Nevertheless, the rumors persist and the latest version that’s circulating falsely say NAR is advocating for the tax’s repeal. But while NAR doesn’t support the tax (it was added into the health care law at the last minute and never considered in hearings), it’s not advocating for its repeal at this time.

The characterization of the 3.8 percent tax as a tax on real estate is an example of an Internet rumor, says Heather Elias, NAR’s director of social business media. Elias and Linda Goold, NAR’s director of tax policy, sat down for a discussion of how the tax works and how Internet rumors work and you can find their remarks in the 6-minute video above.

Goold says the tax will affect few home sellers because so many different pieces must fall into place a certain way for the tax to apply. First, any home sale gain (principal residence) must be more than the $250,000-$500,000 capital gains exclusion that’s in effect today. That’s gain, not sales amount, so you really have to reap a substantial amount for the tax to even come into play. Very few people are walking away with a gain of more than half a million dollars today, even in the high-end home market, so right off the bat only a few home sellers would be a candidate for the tax.

For the few households that do see a gain of more than the $250,000-$500,000 exclusion (that’s $250,000 for single filers and $500,000 for joint filers), only the amount above the exclusion would be factored into the tax calculation, and that would still only apply to high-income households, which the law defines as single people earning $200,000 a year and joint filers earning $250,000 a year.

So, if you are a households with annual income of $250,000 or more and you earn a gain of more than $500,000 on your house (again, that’s after the $500,000 exclusion), any amount of gain above the exclusion would be plugged into a formula to see if it’s taxable. If it turns out that it’s taxable, then the amount could be subject to the 3.8 percent tax. If the household had a gain of more than $500,000 but only earned $249,000 a year in income, the tax wouldn’t apply.

(Note that these are just hypothetical examples. To know if a case would really be subject to the tax, a professional tax preparer or tax attorney has to look at all the particulars of the tax filer’s case. Only a tax professional is in a position to say the tax is applicable, but the examples cited here could help you get a sense of how the tax works.)

The other thing about the tax worth noting is that, although it takes effect in 2013, any impact on taxes wouldn’t happen until 2014. That’s because the tax filer would do the calculation in 2014 for the 2013 tax year. Because it’s not a tax on a real estate sale but rather on a capital gain, it’s not calculated at the time of an asset sale, whether that asset is a house or something else. It’s calculated at the time the filer figures his or her tax.

This is all explained clearly in the video, so if you have questions about how the tax works, or if you’re still hearing rumors about the tax and you’re not certain of the accuracy of what you’re hearing, the video should prove helpful.


MOVERS: Buyers Review of Big Foot Moving in Arlington

MOVING has to be one of the big fears for first time home buyers. The last thing you want moving into your new home is having things broken by the team hired to carefully move your nest from one place to another. My recommendations are one thing, but here’s an email from my buyers who just landed comfortably in their new home in Bedford, from an apartment in Arlington. Can’t you just hear their smiles?

… Here’s our feedback on BigFoot, you can tell the owner that we were really happy with the service. The guys were on time, did a great job moving everything out of the 2nd and 3rd floor apartment, nothing was damaged or broken. They also were quite funny and seemed to be having a good time…they were priced about 1000 less than some of their competitors. Overall a great experience (my husband said we’re never moving ourselves again…). Emilie & Dimitri K, Bedford, MA

So remember the name: BIG FOOT Movers in Arlington, MA  phone 781-488-3090