The following information was obtained from the National Association of Realtors Government Affairs Update. Please note that this article provides general information only. Information is not provided as advice for a specific matter. Laws vary from state to state. For advice on a specific matter, consult your attorney or CPA.
In 2008, Congress enacted a $7,500 tax credit designed to be an incentive for first-time homebuyers to purchase a home. The credit was designed as a mechanism to decrease the over-supply of homes for sale.
For 2009, Congress increased the credit to $8,000 and made several additional improvements. This revised $8,000 tax credit applies to purchases made between Jan. 1 and Dec. 1.
What is this new homebuyer tax incentive for 2009? The 2008 $ 7,500 repayable credit recently increased to $8,000. Any home that is purchased for $80,000 or more qualifies for the full $8,000 amount. If the house costs less than $80,000, the credit will be 10 percent of the cost. Thus, if an individual purchased a home for $70,000, the credit would only be $7,000. This tax credit is available for the purchase of a principal residence on or after Jan. 1 and before Dec. 1.
Who is eligible? Only first-time homebuyers are eligible. A person is considered a first-time buyer if he or she has not had any ownership interest in a home in the three years prior to the day of the 2009 purchase.
Is there an income restriction? Yes. The income restriction is based on the tax filing status the purchaser claims when filing his or her income tax return. Individuals filing Form 1040 as single (or head of household) are eligible for the credit if their income is no more than $75,000. Married couples who file a joint return many have income of no more than $150,000.
Are there any restrictions on the location of the property? Yes. The home must be located in the United States.
Do I have to repay the 2009 tax credit? No. There is no repayment for 2009 tax credits unless you claim the credit and then sell the property within 3 years of the date of purchase. You are then required to pay back the full amount of any credit, including any refund you received from it.
Do 2008 purchasers still have to repay their tax credit? Yes. The $7,500 credit in 2008 was more like an interest-free loan. All eligible purchasers who claimed the 2008 credit will still be required to repay it over 15 years, starting with their 2010 tax return.
If I have a home under construction, am I eligible for the credit? Yes, so long as you actually occupy the home before Dec. 1.