Handicap Deck

Today TaxMama hears from Carrie in Vermont who says, “I have a handicapped son. This spring we built a deck with ramp onto our house.
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I have heard that the deck cannot be taxed for property tax purposes because of this. Is that true?”

Dear Carrie,

Do you have any idea how complex federal tax laws are? And then add in my own state’s tax laws. Now you want to come here and expect me to know about Vermont property tax laws? Oh no!!! I can barely keep up with IRS and California laws!
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Property tax laws are determined on a purely local level – well below the state level.
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Same with most of the 50 states. Can you imagine what my brain would have to be like to know THAT much information. Whew! My brain isn’t that big.

Even within Vermont, you may have different municipalities with differing laws.
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So, what can you do to find out if the deck is exempt from property tax? Simple. Call up your property tax assessor’s office. In fact, if that was a consideration, I’d have called BEFORE building the deck in case they had any special rules in place that you had to follow to ensure making it tax-free.

Now, as to the cost of the deck being deductible for IRS purposes (which you didn’t ask) as a medical expense?
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Well, the ramp would certainly be a medical expense.

But I can’t see why the deck would be. If the deck is essentially a patio for everyone to use – there doesn’t seem to be any justification for it to be specifically for your son’s use. Unfortunately, your property tax assessor may follow the same logic.

So get a separate invoice for the cost of the ramp. You should be able to use that portion of the expense as a medical deduction.

Either way, I hope you all enjoyed that lovely new spot in your home all summer!

And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about disability-related improvements and other tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At TaxMama.com

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