IRS Publications for Homeowners

Here is a library of IRS publications for homeowners, covering many issues of concern.




Home Mortgage Interest Deduction


Includes general information on home mortgage interest, including points, how to report deductible interest and limits on your deduction.
Selling Your Home


Covers the rules for excluding from income any gain up to $250,000 ($500,000 on a joint return for married couples), the business use or rental of your home, and recapturing a federal mortgage subsidy.
Tax Information for First-Time Homeowners


Includes settlement and closing costs, real estate taxes, home mortgage interest, and repairs, tax credits for a mortgage credit certificate and documents to prove basis and adjusted basis.
Residential Rental Property


Covers rules involving rental income and expenses, including depreciation, as well as casualty losses on rental property and the passive activity and at-risk rules.
Business Use of Your Home


Contains information about who qualifies for deductions for business use of a home, including as a daycare facility.
Moving Expenses


Provides information on deductions for certain costs of moving because you changed job locations or started a new job.

















© 2015 Thompson Reuters

7 Questions to Ask a Household Payroll Provider

questions to ask a payroll providerA household employer must understand the federal, state, and local employment laws that pertain to his or her household. Many laws require the employer to obtain, file, and submit necessary paperwork. Tax laws also have paperwork requirements, such as reporting wages to the Department of Labor or a state’s Wage and Hour Division. While some laws require employers to submit forms to a designated department or division, others require employers to file completed forms and be ready to produce the paperwork when requested by government officials.

As you can see, dealing with taxes and payroll can be time-consuming, nerve-racking, and complicated. Household employers may spend more than sixty hours a year handling payroll and tax administration. It is not easy, and many household employers choose to use the services of a professional payroll provider. Many employers find security in knowing that their household payroll and taxes are taken care of by experienced and qualified professionals.

To assist with the process of hiring a payroll company, our affiliate company GTM Payroll Services has put together this helpful guide: “7 Questions to Ask a Household Payroll Provider.”

For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

National Nanny Recognition Week 2015

You know your nanny isn’t just a babysitter. Make sure he/she knows how much you appreciate them. Here are a few ideas for celebrating National Nanny Recognition Week 2015 with the most important person you’ll ever hire.

national nanny recognition week 2015


Nanny Staying Overnight? How to Prepare

nanny staying overnightQ: We use a nanny occasionally in the  mornings and afternoons, but we are going out of town and she will be staying two nights with the kids. She has never stayed overnight before. What do we need to know? How should she prepare?

A: A nanny staying overnight on occasion is quite common among households. While many of the same rules and job duties you use for daytime care still apply, there are a few other things to consider that are specific to overnight stays.

You should:

  • Discuss pay rate
    • If you hired your nanny through an agency, most agencies charge a flat rate for temporary nannies when they stay overnight (we charge $50-$75 per night). However, if a child is up during the night for more than an hour, your hourly rate would apply on top of the flat rate for each hour the child is awake.
    • If you hired your nanny on your own, a best practice would still be to pay a flat fee for the overnight stay, and to also compensate hourly if a child will be up during the night. You should discuss the payment options with your nanny and make sure you are in agreement before the overnight stay begins.
  • Make sure your nanny has comfortable accommodations for sleeping (bed, access to bathroom).
  • Make the child(ren) aware of where she will be sleeping in case she is needed during the night.
  • If you have a baby monitor, make sure it is where your nanny will be sleeping.
  • Go over your rules for the kids’ bedtime routine, as well as the morning wake-up routine.
  • Make your nanny aware of all doors that need to be locked and alarms in the home that need to be turned on.
  • Have an emergency contact’s information visible (neighbor, friend, etc.)
  • Make sure funds are available for dinner and breakfast, if applicable.
  • Go over school lunch arrangements with the nanny if she will be taking the kids to school in the morning.

Your nanny should:

  • Go over payment options with the parent prior to them leaving.
  • Bring an overnight bag with toothbrush, sleepwear, and any nighttime personal items not normally carried along for daytime jobs.
  • Keep track of any hours she is up during the night with the kids.
  • Keep a log of the child(ren)’s evening and morning activities/incidents.
  • Ask about taking phone messages and answering the door. Ask if the parents are expecting any visitors or deliveries while they are away.

For more information, please contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Hiring a Nanny: the Family Interaction Test

family interaction testThere are many concerns to consider when you are involved in hiring a nanny or other household employee, as well as many legalities to abide by to ensure equitable and fair employment opportunities. By taking the hiring process one step at a time, you can proceed with well-planned and well-researched employment offers.

After you have conducted phone and/or in-person interviews, and you have finally decided in your own mind which are the best candidates, make sure you let them meet the family members they will be looking after. If this is a nanny, you can tell a lot from how she interacts with your child. You should be there to watch and to facilitate the interaction, but you should also move to another room and eavesdrop on the conversation and actions of the nanny and the child. You want there to be warmth between the caregiver and the child, you want them to have fun, you want the candidate to be polite, caring, and professional. The child should feel safe and happy in their care. If you are comfortable with the idea, you can also arrange another interview time to give a trial run of the nanny on their own and then gently ask the child their opinion and whether they enjoyed being with the nanny and liked her.

The same process can apply to hiring a senior care worker. Observe how the candidate and the senior get along, see if they carry on friendly conversations, and determine, as with a nanny, if they are caring, professional, and sincere. Ask your elderly loved one later how comfortable they felt with the caregiver, and see if they would enjoy spending time with him/her.

You could choose not to pay for this as part of the interview process, but you need to make sure the caregiver is aware that this is unpaid interview time before you make arrangements. Or you could choose to pay the candidate for this time as a goodwill gesture to keep them interested and to set up an employment relationship of trust from the beginning.

Listen to your instincts and back that up with the background checks that A New England Nanny takes care of. This will be well worth the effort in your overall work to hire an employee that makes everyone in your household feel comfortable and safe—and happy. You are hiring a nanny or senior care worker to help you not worry about what is going on at home. Take time now to check out the person you are bringing into your home and who you are entrusting with your loved ones, your property, and your memories.

For more information about how GTM helps families with household employment issues like this, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

First Steps to Becoming a Household Employer

becoming a household employerThe IRS defines a household employer as any person who employs housekeepers, maids, gardeners, and others who work in and around an individual’s private residence. A nanny is an example of such an employee. In becoming a household employer,  it is critical that you begin with a clear definition of what you want in a household employee. First, understand what your objectives are in bringing an employee into your household. Many people have taken that nerve-racking first step. For you, it does not have to be a step into the unknown.

Viewing a situation from another person’s perspective is always a good barometer for how something will work out. When it comes to employing household help, ask yourself the following questions.

  • What do I want to accomplish in the short- and long-term?
  • What problem am I trying to solve?
  • Who does this benefit?

Most household employers want to balance personal life with work life. You want to know that your child, parent, or home is being cared for so that you may focus on your career. Hiring household staff is often the best solution to cultivating a lifestyle of convenience, peace of mind, and freedom.

You may be surprised to discover that more than just the people living in your household are stakeholders in some way or another to your household employment. Other than your spouse, children, and you, a household employee could affect and benefit extended family members, neighbors, friends, and coworkers, among others.

In any household employment situation, the biggest mistake any one of us can make is not planning on being successful. Many people do not take the time necessary to be a proactive employer. Without a well-designed ground plan, your nanny, your family, and you may be unprepared for the day-to-day issues that arise. These issues can result in wasted effort and time, often pulling you away from your professional duties to attend to a household matter that could likely be handled individually by the nanny or housekeeper if plans had been established from the start.

No matter if you are hiring a nanny to care for your child, a senior care provider to care for your parent, or a houseman to care for your property, you need to make a real effort to learn about, plan for, and practice being a manager of a household employee. Naturally, you will need to manage your way through some bumps in the road, but once everyone is engaged, you will be positioned to build and maintain a successful employment relationship. No matter who is working in your home, keep in mind the reality of the situation. You are making difficult decisions that affect your household and your family. Household employment is very much a personal endeavor. You do it to manage your life, provide optimal care for your children or ailing parents, and maintain a smooth and peaceful household. It is not easy, and there is no other hire as important. No matter what the type of household employee, the process is the same—learn, prepare, plan, communicate, gather feedback, and revise (if necessary). By preparing, planning, and practicing as household employer, you are on your way to engaging a critical member of your household team, one that will help you with your goal of achieving life and work balance.

Learn how A New England Nanny can help you with this process – contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Tattoo Policy for Nannies

tattoo policy for nanniesQ:  My nanny wants to get a tattoo. Can I ask her not to do so, or require that she cover it while in my home?

A:  An issue like this warrants a discussion with your nanny, and in this case it’s fortunate that she brought up the idea with you beforehand, as opposed to her showing up at your home one day with the tattoo already there. One way to avoid this issue arising during employment is to go over your dress code policy – including tattoos – prior to hiring your nanny.

Some families are widely accepting of “body art” like tattoos and piercings, while others may feel it’s inappropriate for any employee – particularly one that cares for your children – to have them. Assuming your nanny is over 18, she can legally get a tattoo without parental consent. However, as an employer, you have to right to enforce a tattoo policy for nannies. We recommend following your written dress code policy regarding tattoos in the workplace – your home. If your dress code policy does not address covering visible tattoos, or do so in a way you like, consider revising it. You may decide to prohibit visible tattoos entirely or you may simply prohibit tattoos that are offensive, distracting, inappropriate, or over a certain size. The policy could even be something general like “Tattoos must be appropriate and in keeping with a professional image.”

As an employer, you create the rules to promote the “company culture” of your home. You may want to stress that a nanny is a role model of sorts for your children, and seeing their nanny with inked skin may encourage them to want one as well. If that goes against the values you want your children to follow, you need to explain that to your nanny as a reason you do not want to see a tattoo while she is with your kids. If you decide that it’s ok for her to have one, provided it’s covered while in your home, keep in mind that if she takes the kids swimming and wears a bathing suit, the tattoo will likely be exposed.

Whatever you decide, your policy and practice must allow for religious accommodations. Some religions do not permit the covering of tattoos or other religious items, and you should be prepared to make exceptions. When you’ve decided on a policy, be sure to communicate your reasons to your nanny and update your employee handbook.

For more information, please contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Your Kid Has Lice? Don’t Panic!

Lice - don't panicBy Deb Medina

If you are a parent with kids in school, you have probably gotten a letter in the backpack indicating “a reported case of lice in your child’s class.” As you start to panic a little while checking your child’s head, you might wonder if you really even know what you’re looking for.

If you’re just looking for bugs crawling around, that is not always the case! Yes, you may see actual lice crawling around if the eggs or “nits” have hatched. However, if the louse has laid eggs and moved on, you may just see a small white speck on the hair strand which you could easily mistake as a fuzz or dry scalp. The difference is when you try to flick it away, it hangs on to the hair shaft for dear life.

I never knew to look for nits. The first time this happened was last fall after we got the dreaded letter. I took my daughter to the doctor for something unrelated. I asked her to check her head, even though I told her I already did and didn’t find a thing. That’s when the doctor said, “See these little white specks? Those are nits.”

I immediately went to the store and bought the typical lice treatment remedy.  I spent $100 on a nasty chemical, then spent the next 2 hours with a crying 6-year-old sitting in front of me while I used a comb that continuously pulled at her long hair, and with each pull she screamed at me. She cried, I cried, and both of us were nearing a nervous breakdown. By the end, we were both physically and mentally exhausted. We vacuumed, bagged things and washed everything in hot water as instructed per the box. I never wanted to go through that again.

liceMonths later, I was in my car and heard an advertisement for the Miracles on Lice Treatment Center in Ballston Lake. After looking on their website, I really wish I knew about this place sooner so I wouldn’t have put my daughter through that ordeal.

But even though school is out for the summer, lice don’t take a vacation. I picked my daughter up from camp one day, and later while brushing her hair, I found nits!

This time I immediately called Miracles on Lice.  They were very nice and accommodating, and I was given an appointment for the next morning. I hoped that they would say she was clear because their treatment is expensive, but if they could indeed perform a “miracle,” it would be worth every penny.

The first thing they do is a head check which runs $25. So if you get the dreaded letter from school and you aren’t sure whether your child may have lice, the $25 is worth it. If they do have it, everyone in the family is given a head check at no charge, and then they will give you the options to treat it.  The treatment process is extremely time-consuming and done in more than one stage while you’re there. They don’t fool around – they wear headlamps and are certified in the “Shepherd Method,” which is strand-by-strand nit and lice removal, which is supposed to be the most effective method.

Unfortunately my daughter did have nits, so we spent the next 3 hours at their office (they checked me and thankfully I was clear). They had movies and other things to occupy my daughter, who went from being scared before we arrived to actually not wanting to leave! When her treatment was done, they gave her a braid of her choice and me a letter clearing her to go back to camp the next day.

Miracles on Lice is run by a local family of licensed hair stylists who saw the need to help families. The mom worked in a salon for children and when they had to turn away lice-infected kids, she realized they needed help, so they started this business.

While the cost is high, I was willing to pay more to let the experts treat it and treat it right.  Did you know you can get lice from going to the movies? Many other heads touch that seat before you sit down in it, so the risk is there. I would have never known that without visiting Miracles on Lice!

I also learned that to help prevent lice:

  1. Stop using sweet-smelling hair products. Most kids’ products smell fruity and sweet. Rosemary and mint aromas can actually repel lice. Miracles on Lice has their own brand which contains a special mix of scents that lice hate most (I bought a set of their shampoo and conditioner – I’m not playing around either).
  2. Always have long hair in braids or buns when around others (especially at school).
  3. Do not let kids share hats, combs and brushes, hair bands, and other items. If kids’ coats are hung next to each other, lice can walk right on over. Miracles on Lice also has a repellent spray that lasts 8 hours – spray on coats, backpacks, etc.

I hope sharing my story will help any families that might be dealing with lice, whether it’s just to get a head check or a full treatment – you can check out pictures of my daughter’s visit below. I am very grateful to the staff at Miracles on Lice!


Affordable Care Act Changes May Affect Household Employers

affordable care act changes may affect household employersWhen the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect several years ago, it provided transitional relief for small employers.  As of July 1, 2015, it no longer offers that relief and the following Affordable Care Act changes for household employers are now true:

  • An employer cannot pay for an individual health insurance plan directly to an employee’s insurance company or reimburse an employee for it.  Instead, they can increase their employee’s salary and allow them to set up a pre-tax deduction with a Premium Only Plan (POP).  Our affiliate company, GTM Payroll services, does offer POP plans and can set up for your employee – get a free quote here.
  • An employer cannot discriminate and must offer the same benefit to all employees who have the same job status.
  • Employees are only allowed to pre-tax an individual insurance premium if it is not already tax advantaged.  It’s recommended that they not pre-tax any insurance premiums paid through the Federal or State exchange.

Employers with two or more employees can no longer set up or fund a Health Reimbursement Account (HRA) to pay for their employees’ individual plans.  Those with only one employee can continue to set up an HRA to help fund their employee’s individual plans.

See more information from the IRS and read about the ACA and household employment here.

Contact us with any questions at (518) 348-0400.

Not-So-Frequently Asked Questions from Nannies

frequently asked questions from nanniesWe hear many questions from both current and prospective nannies about what it means to be a household employee, but sometimes we hear some not-so-frequently asked questions, such as the ones below, that bring important issues to light.

Q: I am a nanny and my employer is paying my Social Security and Medicare but has asked me if I would like income taxes withheld. I am uncertain whether to have income tax withheld from my paycheck. What is the best scenario?

A: What is best depends on you. First, please know that choosing to withhold income tax from your paycheck is not the same as choosing whether to pay it. You must pay it. The option you ask about is whether you want your employer to withhold income tax from your paycheck or you want to pay the income tax yourself. So, this becomes a budgeting and convenience issue. We strongly discourage employees from trying to pay taxes on their own.

Q: Is there a difference between being covered by Social Security and being eligible for Social Security?

A: Yes, and it is significant. To be eligible for Social Security, you must work forty calendar quarters to be fully insured and eligible for retirement, disability, death, and survivor benefits. To be covered, you must work at least ten calendar quarters to be insured and eligible for limited death benefits.

Q: I’m a nanny, but I’m not a U.S. citizen. Does my employer still have to pay U.S. minimum wage?

A: Yes. Minimum wage, as well as federal and state labor laws, generally applies to domestic and household employees working in the United States or a U.S. possession or territory, regardless of employee citizenship or immigration status.

Q: I just started caring for an infant of brand new parents. If they decide to install a nannycam in their home, do they need to inform me that I may be monitored?

A: It is fair and proper for a household employer to fully disclose to an employee whether he or she will be monitored in the household. Check local laws for the legal use of these devices in your workplace. The parents should disclose this information during the hiring process to ensure that the applicant is comfortable with this practice.

Q: The family I work for has a five-year-old daughter with chicken pox. I’m concerned that I was exposed to the illness and was carrying it home to my husband, who has never had chicken pox. Should my employer provide me with protective gear?

A: Every employer in the United States must ensure that a workplace—even one in the home—is a safe and healthy environment in which to work. Employers can provide a housekeeper with gloves and a face mask when using a chemical cleaner; gardener with eye goggles and ear plugs when using landscaping equipment; senior care worker with medical gloves when injecting medication; or in your case, provide you with medical gloves and a face mask when caring for a child with the flu, measles, chicken pox, and so on. Such universal precautions are standard in any work environment and are an ideal topic for employers to discuss with employees during the development of a work agreement and review of the employee handbook.

For more information, contact us today at (518) 348-0400.