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Are safety upgrades repairs or improvements?

Future-Proof: Navigate Threats, Seize Opportunities at ICNY 2018 | Jan 22-26 at the Marriott Marquis, Times Square, New York

DEAR BENNY: Is the definition of "capital improvement" something that increases the actual value of the house, even if it may not trigger a change in taxes, or must it be taxable? If the first, is there a dollar figure that could be considered a "floor"? For example, when we bought our house we discovered many unsafe issues, such as no railings on steps leading down from the deck and, notably, unsafe steps exiting the house into the garage. We built a landing with better, safer stairs at the dangerous exit at a cost of about $400. Railings cost about $100. Our corrections have made our house safer, but they didn't lead to a rise in taxes and they will not lead to an increase in sale price. Are additions directed to safety considered repairs or capital improvement? --Phyllis DEAR PHYLLIS: That's a good, but tough, question to answer. Many years ago, I did a study of a large number of court cases involving "What is an improvement?" My findings ...