Clock Resets For First-Time Home Buyers Tax Credit

Congress both extended and expanded the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit program Thursday.

The White House says the President will sign it into law today.

The up-to-$8000 tax credit’s expiration date has been pushed forward to spring, requiring home buyers to be under contract by April 30, 2010, and to be closed by June 30, 2010.

The program’s basic eligibility requirements remain the same:

  • Buyers can’t purchase the home from a parent, spouse, or child
  • Buyers can’t purchase the home from an entity in which they’re a majority owner
  • Buyers can’t acquire the home by gift or inheritance
  • All parties to the purchase must meet eligibility requirements

The new law includes some notable updates, however.

For one, the definition of “first-time home buyer” has been expanded to include most homeowners with at least 5 years in their current home.  “Move-up” buyers like these are now eligible for IRS tax credits, but with a cap at $6,500.

This means that you don’t have to be a true first-time home buyer to claim the “first-time home buyer tax credit”.

Other eligibility changes include:

  • The subject property’s sales price may not exceed $800,000
  • The subject property must be a primary residence
  • Income thresholds raised to $125,000 for single-filers and $225,500 for joint-filer

And remember, the First-Time Home Buyer program grants a tax credit as opposed to a deduction.  This means that a tax filer would receive a cash payment of $2,000 from the U.S. Treasury if his “normal” tax liability totals $6,000 and he was eligible for all $8,000 available under the new law.

The complete list of qualifying criteria is posted on the IRS website.  Be sure to review it with a tax professional to determine your eligibility.  Then mark your calendar for April 30, 2010.

It’s 5 months away.

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