DEAR BOB: About 10 years ago we bought a lake lot in the area of Missouri where we were living. Before we moved from there we tried without luck to sell the lot. Since then we've paid the property taxes and assessments, which totaled about $2,000. We've tried unsuccessfully to deed this property to the company that sold us the lot. Please tell us how to get rid of this burden. Edward J., Alexandria.
DEAR EDWARD: Good news. Uncle Sam allows tax deductions when you abandon property that was purchased for investment. To qualify, you need only show some indication of abandonment, such as failure to pay the property tax. Check with your attorney or tax advisor, as there is a right way and several rwong ways to abandon property for maximum tax savings.
DEAR BOB: My wife thinks we should invest in rental houses. But I think we can do better putting our money in the savings and loan association. We found one house, for example, where we can earn about 8 percent return if we make a 20 percent down payment. But we can do better than that, with no risk, by putting our money into those new "T-bill certificates." William W., Vienna.
DEAR WILLIAM: You're overlooking the three sources of real estate profits. Cash flow is ony one source. Another is the property's likely appreciation in market value. A bonus source is your income tax dollar savings from the depreciation deduction to "shelter" income from taxation.
Added together, it's not unusual for a property investor to earn total return on invested dollars of 20 to 30 percent per year. But the cash flow, as you correctly state, may be only 8 percent, frequently less. In other words, if you want high cash flow, real estate isn't the best investment.
DEAR BOB: I have terminal illness. My wife has suggested that I "sign off" on ownership of our home, leaving her the sole owner. Would this prcedure save her paying tax when I die? My thought is that she could be killed in an auto crash or other accident before my death. Joseph A., Alexandria.
DEAR JOSEPH: Federal law and that of most states includes in the decedent's estate the value of any properties transferred "in contemplation of death." Transfer of title to your home, therefore, probably won't exclude its value from your estate.
But it could exclude it from probate procedures, thus saving on probate and attorney costs. Before you make the transfer, talk to your attorney or tax advisor. Prhaps a trust would better satisfy your wishes.
DEAR BOB: When I bought my house, I asked the real estate agent to word the deed so that when I die my sister will get the house. But the deed was prepared wrong. It is in joint tenancy, requiring my sister's approval of any sale. How can I claim my full ownership? Pausy R., Annandale.
DEAR PAUSY: See an attorney. Real estate agents are not qualified to give legal advice or prepare deeds with special conditions. Your agent should have advised you to contact a lawyer.
DEAR BOB: We're interested in devices that help conserve home energy. Please tell us more about solar energy equipment and if it is a wise expenditure. Sue R., Middleburg, Va.
DEAR SUE: A few solar energy conservation devices, such as for heating, have proved successful. But others have proved too costly to maintain.
Before buying, ask for names of buyers who purchased the devices several years ago. Check with these buyers to see if they are satisfied. Although the new tax credits for installing energy conservation devices are attractive, don't rush out to buy devices that aren't fully proven.
For the Robert Bruss report, How to Get the Greatest Possible Tax Savings From Your Home, send 25 cents and a stamped, self-addressed envelope to P.O. Box 6710, 711 Commercial St., San Francisco, Calif. 94101.