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Fed up with Bellingham? Vermont program offers big money to some new relocatees

DEAR MR. MYERS: I heard a brief report on the radio that said Vermont is now offering $10,000 to anyone who will move there. What are the details?

ANSWER: It’s true that the Green Mountain State will launch a new program that will provide up to $10,000 to some folks who relocate there. But it isn’t open to everyone – in fact, it may help only 100 or fewer new arrivals.

The plan was signed into law on May 30. When the program begins next year, it will provide some people who move to Vermont from another state up to $10,000 to help ease the transition, with a maximum of $5,000 in 2019 and up to another $5,000 in 2020.

A total of just $125,000 will be available statewide next year. But Vermont state Sen. Michael Sirotkin, who helped to push the relocation-reimbursement bill through the state legislature, hopes it will attract as many as 100 individuals and families, because not everyone will need the maximum $10,000 to ease their transition.

The program primarily is designed to beckon to workers in the technology industry. The grants could be used to offset moving expenses, pay for new computers and software or broadband access, or even cover the cost of renting space in an office shared with other tech professionals.

However, there are strings attached. For starters, applicants must have a full-time job with a company that is based outside of Vermont but be able to work remotely inside Vermont’s borders. They also must become a full-time Vermont resident and meet other requirements.

Sirotkin believes the new program may be particularly attractive to residents of tech-heavy New York and Boston who would like to continue working for their current employer but want to live in a more laid-back environment.

REAL ESTATE TRIVIA: Vermont already tops the list numbers of people who are relocating there from other states, according to an annual survey by moving giant United Van Lines. Oregon is second, followed by Idaho, Nevada and South Dakota.

DEAR MR. MYERS: We are selling our home, but it doesn’t have central air conditioning like some of the other local homes do. Our real estate agent suggested that we install at least one or two ceiling fans to make the home more marketable, but we think it would just be a waste of money. What are your thoughts?

ANSWER: I think that your agent is right. According to the National Association of Home Builders’ recent “Home Buyer Preferences” survey, ceiling fans are among the top five amenities that today’s buyers desire.

Prices of ceiling fans vary widely, from as little as $30 or $40 to $700 or more. The typical homeowner pays $631 to buy a fan with a light kit and remote control and to have it professionally installed, according to cost-estimating website Homewyse.com.

DEAR MR. MYERS: My credit isn’t very good. I was watching a “credit-repair” infomercial on TV the other night, and something that the host said got me wondering: If I get a free “Taxpayer Identification Number” from the Internal Revenue Service, could I use it to apply for a mortgage without providing my Social Security number so the bank would not discover my lousy credit history?

ANSWER: Probably not. The bank likely would demand that you supply your Social Security number in addition to your Taxpayer Identification Number, commonly referred to as TIN, so your spotty credit would still be revealed. And even if the lender didn’t ask for your SSN, the fact that your TIN would be brand-new means that there would be no credit history attached to it. That would be akin to applying for a mortgage with no credit record at all.

Virtually anyone can get a TIN and then use it to apply for a mortgage or other types of credit. Most are issued to businesses or to immigrants who don’t have a Social Security card.

Misuse of a TIN, though, can get you into trouble. For example, it’s illegal to apply for credit using a TIN rather than an SSN if you are simply trying to elude existing creditors or law-enforcement officials. Penalties can include hefty fines or even jail time.

In short, relatively few individuals can benefit from obtaining a TIN. Those who do must be careful how they use it.

David W. Myers’ column is distributed by Cowles Syndicate Inc.

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