New First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit Bill

Larry O. Doss Thursday, November 5, 2009

Let’s all hope this bill passes. It will continue to spur the economic and real estate recovery.

WASHINGTON — Buying a home is about to get cheaper for a whole new crop of homebuyers — $6,500 cheaper.

First-time homebuyers have been getting tax credits of up to $8,000 since January as part of the economic stimulus package. But with that program scheduled to expire at the end of November, the Senate voted 98-0 Wednesday to extend and expand the tax credit to include buyers who already own homes. The House is expected to vote on the bill Thursday. Buyers who have owned their current homes at least five years would be eligible for tax credits of up to $6,500. First-time homebuyers — or anyone who hasn’t owned a home in the last three years — would still get up to $8,000. To qualify, buyers in both groups have to sign a purchase agreement by April 30, 2010, and close by June 30. The credit is available for the purchase of principal homes costing $800,000 or less, meaning vacation homes are ineligible. The credit would be phased out for individuals with annual incomes above $125,000 and for joint filers with incomes above $225,000. The credit would be extended an additional year, until June 30, 2011, for members of the military serving outside the United States for at least 90 days.

The bill is H.R. 3548.
HOW THE HOMEBUYER TAX CREDIT WOULD WORK

Tax credit: 10% of the purchase price of a primary residence, up to a maximum of $8,000 for first-time homebuyers and $6,500 for repeat buyers. First-time homebuyers are defined as people who have not owned a home in the previous three years. Repeat buyers must have owned their current home at least five years. The credit cannot be used for houses costing more than $800,000.
Deadline for qualifying: Purchase agreements must be signed by April 30, 2010, and closings must be final by June 30.
Military deadline: The deadline is extended by a year for members of the military who have served outside the U.S. for at least 90 days from Jan. 1, 2009, to May 1, 2010.
Income limits: Individuals with annual incomes up to $125,000 and joint filers with incomes up to $225,000 qualify for the full credit. Individuals with incomes up to $145,000 and joint filers with incomes up to $245,000 qualify for reduced credits.
How to apply: Taxpayers can claim the credit on their federal income tax returns. If the credit exceeds their tax bill, the government will issue a payment. Taxpayers who want immediate refunds can amend their tax returns for 2008 to claim the credit.
Cost: $10.8 billion.
Source: Joint Committee on Taxation.

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