Pluto In Capricorn And The (Thriving) Black Market: Stimulus Tax Credit On Replacement Windows now most of you know I considering replacing some windows and a patio door at my house. I did what would be reasonable and recommended. I got three quotes from reputable companies – all three of them selling aggressively and lying to do so.

There is a government tax credit available, part of the stimulus package.  Basically they lead you to believe you are going to get 30% off whatever you pay when in fact the credit is only on the window itself, not the labor.

They make it even more squirrely by not breaking this out for you. They won’t tell you how much of the quote is “window” and how much is labor, which leaves you with a government formula.

The government formula is 69% of the invoice is considered “window” so you wind up with 30% of 69% which is of course a lot less than a straight 30%. So check this:

One company quoted me $4600 but had the price down to $3200 by the time he left the house in various ploys to get me to BUY NOW.

The next company estimated $2700-$2900 and promised not to play games. When they emailed the exact quote 3 days later, they’d discovered I needed an odd-sized door (1/2 inch off) which increased the quote to  $3200. No one else thinks the door is odd-sized.

The third company quoted me $2700 and the black market?

If I go with the guy on Craigslist, this will cost me about $1200 and I will know exactly how much of that is “window”. ($450).

This gives me $150 tax credit – total cost $1050 as compared to the other three estimates (tax credit approx $550) which gives a total cost of approximately $2500.

What do you make of this?



Pluto In Capricorn And The (Thriving) Black Market: Stimulus Tax Credit On Replacement Windows — 22 Comments

  1. Did you have an energy audit on your house? (Do you know how much the new door/windows would have on your heating bill per year?)

    Odd-sized door. haha.

  2. We got windows this winter (yes with the tax credit in mind) Total window cost from store (we ordered and we get the receipt for proof) 3,000 (very strange windows, arched outside, square inside… but it had to be done as two had 1/4 to 1/2 inch gaps along the edge WHEN CLOSED) That was for an order of 7 windows – wood.

    Labor was a local carpenter and around 800-1000 (he did a few other things and that got rolled in and wasn’t fully broken out)

    We went back to the store to order one more small window this spring and the guy at the store (anderson windows) was in shock at the price of our carpenter – very very cheap compared to most “window installers” that the big box stores send out.

    Most decent carpenters can do windows and level/plumb at that. They charge hourly and can give a basic estimate of their time per window if they can look at it.

    We were averaging around 400 per window.

  3. Companies are out to steal your money. The only thing I might be concerned about, besides money and shenangins is that does the person off craigslist have a warrenty on his work? Most companies, as far as I know, have guarrantees on their work for a certain amount of time. Used to be lifetime but everything’s made to break nowadays to keep commercialism alive.

  4. My husband does this type of work all the time and he usually figures roughly $200-250 in labor per window (a door would be more). However he insists on doing the measuring & ordering the windows himself. That way installing the new window is quick and easy. I helped him set the windows a few times and if the measurements are right, they just pop into place neat as you please.

    We’ve replaced a couple of windows in our home with the new vinyl windows and they are wonderful.

    Those high powered sales types are such a royal pain in the A**. There are plenty of carpenter/handyman guys out there like my Aries who will happily work with clients to keep everyone’s costs down and who do top notch work.

  5. This guy will do the door for $200 and windows for $100 each. He will pick up the windows / door, and haul away.

    I priced buying via Home depot (would have warranty) and window cost is about $100 more (they mark them up/ Labor is $300 for the door and $200 for each window so roughly double the cost if I want the warranty.

    The craigslist guy is coming out (with his wife) to measure tomorrow. He will meet the soldier who will be my warranty if there is a rip off, which I do not expect at all.

  6. people on their own are more driven to get the work done? less likely to have a sales team to yell at them? more likely to be grateful to have work to do?
    i assume he’s properly licensed?

  7. Ugh, it’s ticking me off how businesses keep figuring lying is a way to get through the day. It’s not. It makes you a low-road person. If I was authorized by the gov, I’d give them their comeuppance.

  8. it’s a complicated moral question which is one of the reasons this subject appeals to me. On one hand, if I go the black market route, I cost the government about 1/4 to 1/3 of what they will give me if I pay more.

    On the other hand, odds are high the guy who is working on the side is collecting unemployment… and who knows what other benefits.

    The taxpayer does get some stimulus in that I am buying windows, I’d probably not have bought but actual worth is questionable as the odds the free-lance guy is going to claim the income is questionable.

    The fact is, it has become way, way too attractive to be “out of work” in this country while simultaneously become very, very hard to stay in business (competing against the low/no overhead black market and the result seems to me to be a perfect recipe for disaster.

  9. When you get right down to it, I am getting my protection on the black market as well in the form of the soldier. If the guy rips me off, will I go to the cops or the courts? ::laughs::

    This stuff is not popular to say, however it is rapidly becoming reality on a wide scale;

  10. Wish I could send my Aries over, Elsa. The guy is so transparently honest it hurts! 🙂

    If your house is square, that makes window & door replacement easier and requires little to no shimming (adding thin strips of wood between the window frame & the wall). I have no idea what wages are like in your area but my husband charges $20/hr and that’s very reasonable around here. Depends on how many carpenters are out of work in your area due to the building slow down.

    He will meet the soldier who will be my warranty LOL

  11. Well if he is going to get the windows himself, I would make sure that all of them are stored at your house and that you pay him by the day.

  12. When I first moved here in 2006 I took an insurance job with a little agency that I’d never heard of before because I needed a job before I could move.

    The agents there were selling a $60 “towing package” that just a reimbursment up to $100, and that was only for six months, so it was a total rip off but for every one they sold they made $15 commission. Several of my fellow agents lied to the customers and told them it was required. One of them told me, “It’s food on my table or food on theirs.”

    I was shocked because it’s against the law as an insurance agent to lie to the customer.

    As I continued to work there the boss tried to pressure me into doing much bigger illegal things. “It’s just business.” Isn’t that just the sum of what we are facing right now? We’re all f-ed and it’s just somebody’s business.

  13. My parents did many things themselves…did work on the side that wasn’t claimed as income, but not collecting benefits from the government. Working in the industry I do, I see people doing cash work, for sure. There are people who exist doing their own thing entirely…then you have people like me who works for a company and they take %45 of my gross income. I just sold a piece of work and I won’t be claiming the income on my taxes.

  14. I always claimed all the contract work I did. I guess perhaps I didn’t have to, but I’d rather know all my ducks were in a row…

    i don’t know about cash. that’s weird beast altogether. i’m used to at least getting paid by check….

  15. I claim all my cash cos I’m trying to build up to showing a decent income just in case I need another mortgage someday.

  16. Some contractors require a portion of the money up-front, but will not require the final payment until you are completely satisfied with their work. This seems fair to me.

  17. I LOVE your insurance policy! I wish that were the type of insurance we could buy. Oh, right, we’re supposed to buy it with our taxes. Hrm…

    Well, atleast you’re set, which is a good thing!

  18. I haven’t even made $3,000 this year so far. My cash work is small, small, small… Unfortunately I don’t have a hope in hell in any kind of mortgage in the near or distant future, hence my unwillingness to claim cash work. Not to worry, though, I’m quite happy with the life I’ve got.:)

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