Home and Household Tax Deductions

tax-468440_640With just a little more than a month left for filing tax returns this year, it’s a good time to think about what things might qualify for an extra deduction.  In addition to your mortgage and some loan interest payments, some of your 2015 household improvements might be deductible.  

Home improvements eligible for deduction or tax credit include:

  • Installation of new storm doors or energy-efficient windows, insulation, air-conditioning or heating systems can qualify for an energy efficiency tax credit of 10% or up to $500 ($200 maximum towards windows).

  • Renovations and improvements to your home due to a medical condition may be tax deductible.

  • Solar and wind power systems can qualify for as much as 30% of the equipment cost and installation under the renewable-energy tax credit.  This credit will continue into next year for systems that are installed before the end of December 2016.

Home office tax deductions:

  • Home office deductions for those who work from home can include deductions for expenses relating to a qualified office for things like phone lines, heating, electricity, and renovations as well as a portion of your mortgage interest, property taxes and insurance.

Household education deductions (for children attending college or for your continuing education expenses):

  • The American Opportunity tax credit is worth up to $2500 per  year for qualifying expenses related to the first four years of higher education.  Student must be enrolled in a degree or credential program.  The Lifetime Learning Credit, $2000 per year, is not restricted to the first four years of school.  There is also a Tuition and Fees Deduction – for up to $4,000.

If any of these items apply to you in 2015, be sure to check with your accountant to see if you are eligible for any of these deductions.  Don’t forget to provide documentation. Also, make sure that any improvements to your home are documented for your homeowners insurance.  If you have questions about this, please contact our team at Bieritz Insurance in Cooperstown at 607-547-2951 or in Morris at 607-263-5170.  We are happy to assist you!


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Fireplace Safety

Despite the fact that this winter has been mild so far in comparison to the last two years, the months of February and March are still key months for fireplace use. By keeping in mind the following fireplace safety tips, you can protect your property and the lives of your family and neighbors.

  • Inspect and clean your chimney and fireplace once a year (typically in the fall) to remove soot and creosote build up and to make sure they are able to operate safely. A chimney professional will use specialized vacuums to clean the firebox, smoke chamber, damper, smoke shelf and flue liner and will report on any system deficiencies found. They can also check the chimney and cap for deterioration or signs of damage.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each level of your home, and keep them in working order.
  • Test your fireplace with a few small pieces of seasoned wood to make sure that smoke does not enter the room.
  • When operating your fireplace, make sure you remove any combustible materials from the area around your hearth, and use a mesh screen to keep embers in the fireplace. Glass fireplace doors should be kept open when a fire is burning so that the fire receives air to complete combustion and reduce creosote build up in the chimney.
  • Use the correct wood – dense wood types (oak, ash, maple) that have been stored in a dry area for 6 months or more are best – split wood dries more thoroughly and burns better than whole logs. Firewood should be stored a minimum of 30 feet away from your home.
  • Never use flammable liquids to start fires – use matches or a commercial firelighter, and never burn cardboard, trash or debris.
  • Do not close dampers until the fire is completely out.
  • Clean out excess ash so that it doesn’t impede airflow for your fire. An inch of ash at the bottom actually helps to maintain a fire. Ashes can take several days to cool completely. Keep them in a metal container located at least 10 feet away from any buildings.


fireplace3-pixabayThe expenses associated with maintaining your fireplace and chimney each year are minimal in comparison with the costs of a fire. We urge all our clients, family and friends to take the steps necessary to assure safe operations. If you have questions about your insurance coverage in the event of a fire, please contact our team in Cooperstown at 547-2951 or in Morris at 263-5170.

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Safe Riders Video

The video below is put together by the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association and contains comprehensive information about safe snowmobiling. Twenty minutes well-spent if you are new to this sport! We wish all our snowmobiling friends and clients a safe season. Please let us know if you have any questions about your insurance needs for your vehicle!

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Snowmobiling in Otsego County

If you are a snowmobiling enthusiast, you know that our area is a great place to play!  According to iloveny.com, New York offers over 10,400 miles of trails throughout the state.  There are over 230 local clubs associated with the New York State Snowmobiling Association and information available on events, trails, places to stay, tips and more.  This coming weekend is a free snowmobiling weekend to encourage out-of-state and Canadian enthusiasts to sled in NY (the registration fee is waived for the weekend for properly registered and insured out-of state snowmobilers).

Locally, there are some great snowmobiling resources available for riders.  One of our favorite resources is a locally developed phone app that can be accessed even when cellular data service is not available – a great feature for when you are not sure what direction to go when riding our local trails.  The premium app for all of New York State is available for download at both the AppStore and Google Play for $20.  Find parking, areas of interest, tourism locations, stopping areas and trails and trail conditions along with additional tools to help plan your route.  This technology is developed by Mohawk Valley GIS , a Utica based company established in 2003 by Linda Rockwood.

You can access the information online as well at http://www.nysnowmobilewebmap.com/webmap/.



Don’t forget, if you need help with insurance for your Snowmobile, we are happy to assist you!  Contact our team at our Cooperstown office at 607-547-2951 or at our Morris Office at 607-263-5170.


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Snow Removal Safety

snow removal bieritzWe have been very fortunate in our region this year to have not had any significant snowfall so far this winter.  But, as we all know – those days are coming!  Our favorite snow-shoveling days are the ones where each morning, there is only a tiny layer of new snow – light and powdery enough that all you need is a once over with a broom to sweep it clear.  If we are lucky, we will have more than a few of those kinds of snowfalls this winter.  Inevitably though, as part of the winter mix, we will end up with some accumulations of wetter snow that will require actual shoveling. Keep in mind some of the following safety tips for when this occurs.  

First, make sure you are able to safely shovel – if you have back problems or a heart condition, you might want to check with your doctor first, or consider finding someone to hire for the task.  Some landscaping companies will contract with you for snow clearing services through the winter months or if you know any local youths, they might be interested in an extra few dollars in their pockets.   

If you are able to shovel, before you go out make sure you are dressed properly – with layers of clothing, warm socks, hat, gloves and shoes that offer traction on slippery surfaces.  Take a few moments to limber up as well to warm your muscles for the task. Remember to take breaks frequently and stay well-hydrated.  If you experience any pain while shoveling, you should stop immediately.  

Choosing the right tool for the job is likely one of the most important things you can do to prevent injury and strain.  A plastic small-bladed shovel with a curved handle is best.  The curved handle helps you to keep your back straighter while shoveling and the small blade assures that you won’t be lifting too much snow at a time.  It is better to push snow rather than lift it when possible which is why it is recommended to shovel more frequently to clear new snow than to wait until the storm ends and clear it all at once.  One large shovelful of snow can weigh 25 pounds! 

You can increase your leverage while shoveling by keeping your hands at least a foot apart on the shovel.  If you need to lift snow, remember to remove it in smaller shovelfuls and use your legs to lift and move  – try to avoid twisting.

Our team at Bieritz Insurance wishes you a wonderful and safe winter season, free from injuries and with only the amount of snow you can handle!  

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Santa’s Schedule at Pioneer Park 2015

santaWe take this opportunity to welcome Santa and Mrs. Claus back to their cottage on Pioneer Park this year.   Come enjoy the spirit of Christmas in Cooperstown!

Each year Pioneer Park in Cooperstown is transformed into an enchanting “Christmas village” for the holidays. Santa arrived in his horse drawn sleigh at his cottage in Pioneer Park on November 27th.

For your convenience – Santa’s schedule for December  is posted below:

4th      3 – 6 pm
5th    10 – 11 am Mrs. Claus Story Time
5th      1 – 5 pm
6th     1 – 4 pm
11th     3 – 6 pm
12th  10 – 11 am, Mrs. Claus Story Time
12th    1 – 5 pm
13th    1 –4 pm
17th   3 – 6 pm
18th   3 – 6 pm
19th   1 – 5 pm
20th  1 – 4 pm
21st   1 – 4 pm
22nd  1 – 4 pm
23rd  1 – 4 pm
24th  1 – 4 pm

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Cataloging your possessions for insurance

A homeowner’s insurance policy covers replacement value of your home and possessions in the event of a catastrophe, break-ins or other events. If you need to make a claim, you will need documentation of your household possessions to prove replacement value.  Our favorite tool to help you with the process of cataloging your possessions among several available is one called ‘Know Your Stuff’.

know your stuff

Important Note: Before you begin this process, it is recommended that you check with your insurance provider to see if they have specific reimbursement requirements so that you can be aware of them for your inventory.

Know Your Stuff is a free online inventory service provided by the Insurance Information Institute. The site will walk you through configuring rooms in your home and listing the specific items in each area, complete with photos and receipts for documentation. Because the site walks you through everything you need to enter, you can be sure you’re recording all of the right information. When you are finished with your documentation, everything is stored securely online, so you have easy access to your home inventory from anywhere you have an Internet connection.

Even though an online service makes things easier than keeping an inventory on paper, it can still be frustrating to have to photograph all of your possessions and attach those photos one by one to your inventory. To simplify things, Know Your Stuff also has a free app for both iPhone and Android phones. Using the app, you can modify or add to your online inventory—and easily add photos directly from your phone.

We think that Know Your Stuff has the most comprehensive toolset available on the web or your mobile device, which makes it our top recommendation for the best digital home inventory tool.

If you are not quite happy with Know Your Stuff, there are other tools available (also for free) including:

If you are looking for any additional information about cataloging your household, please feel free to contact us.  Bieritz Agency can help you with all your insurance needs.  Call us for a free quote – we can save you money!

Bieritz Insurance Agency, is proud to offer two convenient locations in Otsego County.

Your “Hometown” Insurance Specialists!


new header

Bieritz Insurance Agency
209 Main Street
Cooperstown, NY 13326
FAX 607-547-4487

Morris Insurance Agency
128 Main Street
P.O. Box 70
Morris, NY 13808
FAX 607-263-5270

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Getting your home ready for the winter

The fall months present a great opportunity for home projects that can help you prevent incidents over the winter season. In addition to accident and damage prevention, some of these can save you some money on energy costs as well!  Here are a few tips to help you get your home ready  for the winter.

  • air leaks
    Common Home Air Leak Areas

    Survey your property for dead tree limbs and remove them before they fall during a storm.  Taking down dead and dying tree limbs can prevent damage to your home and power lines.  Make sure you take safety precautions or hire a local professional to help you with this.

  • Check your plumbing.  Are there water pipes in your home that are susceptible to freezing over the winter months?  You can insulate your pipes with pre-slit pipe foam (available at most hardware and home repair stores).  Just cut pieces to the proper length for exposed pipes and use duct tape to secure them.  You can also insulate your water heater too!

  • Inspect and clean your chimney.  As we move into the fall months, you might want to enjoy an evening by the fire in your fireplace or woodstove.  Make sure that your chimney is structurally in good shape and clean out any debris build up that may cause chimney fires.  This usually needs to be done by a professional chimney expert, but is well worth the cost.

  • Sealing and weatherstripping in preparation for the winter is always a good idea to keep your heat in  your home and should be checked and repaired when you are replacing your screens with storm windows and doors.

  • Get your door drafts ready!  In addition to sealing, closing off rooms in your home will help keep each room warmer during the winter months.  Door drafts will help prevent cold air from coming in under your doorways – they really do work!

  • Reverse your ceiling fans.  In the summer months, your fan blades rotate counterclockwise to push cooler air down to your floor.  The cooler air evaporates moisture which helps you feel cooler.    In the winter, your ceiling fan should rotate clockwise at low speed.  This pulls cool air up which pushes the warmer air near your ceiling down along your walls and back to the floor, making your room feel warmer.

  • Don’t forget to clean out your gutters! Check your gutters for debris after the trees lose most of their leaves to assure for good drainage of melting water during the coming winter months.  Check your roof for missing shingles, possible leaks etc.

We hope you have found these tips helpful!  Check with Bieritz Agency for all your insurance needs.  Call us for a free quote – we can save you money!

Bieritz Insurance Agency, is proud to offer two convenient locations in Otsego County.

Your “Hometown” Insurance Specialists!

Bieritz Insurance Agency
209 Main Street
Cooperstown, NY 13326
FAX 607-547-4487

Morris Insurance Agency
128 Main Street
P.O. Box 70
Morris, NY 13808
FAX 607-263-5270

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Auto Insurance for College Students

collegelotIf your child is leaving home to attend college, make sure you check with your auto insurance
provider to see if there are any updates required to maintain your policy because of this change.
It is not recommended to drop a college student from your policy when they leave for school for several reasons.  First, continuous coverage will benefit your child when they are no longer listed on your policy and purchase coverage on their own.  Second, your child may need to drive when they return home during school breaks or if they drive a friend’s car while at school.  Third, having your child listed for coverage on your policy protects your child in the event of any auto-related accident while they are away, as a driver, passenger or pedestrian.
Some companies also offer discounts for your full-time college student drivers.  If your child maintains a grade average of 3.0 or higher, you can provide a transcript and submit for consideration.  You may also qualify for a discount if your child is attending college 75 miles or more away from home.
Students who are taking a car that you own to school can remain on your policy (likely less expensive than under their own policy as a young driver), but you should notify your insurance company of the new address where the vehicle will be located.  If it is in a less populated area, you might end up with a lower rate.  If your student is traveling with their vehicle out of state, make sure your current policy meets the minimum insurance requirements for that state.  If your student owns the vehicle and holds the title, it is likely that they will need to obtain their own insurance.
If you have a student that is attending college and you have questions about their Auto Insurance, call us today at 607-547-2951 in Cooperstown or in Morris at 607-263-5170.

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Bieritz Agency – A Business with Values

Yes, we have Values. We value our clients and we value your business!

fp-showcase2-bieritz_June2015As a local business competing in a marketplace that includes many industry giants, we are always thinking about what makes us different from other insurance agencies.  We are also constantly looking at ways to differentiate ourselves so that we remain competitive in every way possible.


As a small family-owned and operated business, we are not owned by a bank or large conglomerate, and as an independent agency, we have the ability to offer our clients options from over twenty different companies.  We can assess your needs and find options for the best insurance product at the best rates to make sure you have the coverage you need at the lowest cost.


We strive to for friendly customer service and support in all of our interactions and have invested heavily into professional development and training for our employees so that they can serve the needs of our clients to their best abilities.  We pride ourselves on answering our own phones and returning messages promptly, regardless of how you reach out to us – whether by email, phone call or Facebook message.


Our community is very important to us, so we make it a point to remain actively involved in supporting our local schools, businesses and non-profit organizations in a number of ways.  We participate as a member of our local Rotary Chapters and Chambers of Commerce and go the extra mile to help support and promote messages that are important to our community.


We have been successfully serving Otsego county residents and businesses for over 26 years in Cooperstown and over 72 years at our location in Morris. If we can help you with your insurance questions or insurance needs, please call us today at 607-547-2951 in Cooperstown or in Morris at 607-263-5170.



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Celebrating Small Businesses

July is National Independent Retailers Month.  At Bieritz Agency, we are always celebrating our small business partners and the Shop Local message for keeping our dollars within our community.  Please support your local businesses!


Every business is unique and has different needs when it comes to insurance.  Whether your company is large or small, we can find the right product to meet your needs and your budget.  We work with all industries – restaurants, retailers, service and financial businesses as well as lodging and accommodation properties and we offer a number of insurance products for businesses and business owners.   Our staff in Cooperstown and Morris would be happy to answer any questions or provide a quote that could save you money each year.


Our business products include the following:

  • Business Owners Packages
  • Commercial Liability
  • General Liability
  • Commercial Auto
  • Commercial Umbrellas
  • Payroll Deduction Programs
  • Business Retirement Plans
  • Business Life Insurance
  • Church and Non-profit Products
  • Civic Organization Liability
  • Workman’s Compensation
  • Disability Insurance


Call us today at 607-547-2951 in Cooperstown or in Morris at 607-263-5170.

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