Existing home sales jumped 7.2% in July — the biggest monthly gain on record. First-time homebuyers are purchasing about one third of all homes sold. This is largely due to the tax incentive, interest rates hovering at historic lows and housing affordability at its best level in more than a decade.
Qualifying first-time homebuyers can claim 10% of the purchase price up to $8,000, or $4,000 for married individuals filing separately. The credit is available for purchases completed on or after January 1, 2009, and before December 1, 2009. The credit is refundable, meaning recipients receive a check for any claim amount beyond what’s owed in taxes.
Eligibility for the first-time homebuyer credit is determined by the date of the completed purchase, not the date of occupancy. One exception is if the home is being constructed, then the date of occupancy is considered the date of purchase. The home must be used as a primary residence (generally defined as where an individual spends more than 50% of their time). To be eligible, the buyer, or either spouse, cannot have owned and used a home as a primary residence within the last three years. A taxpayer who owned a rental property but not a primary residence within the past three years is eligible for the credit.
The credit does not have to be repaid unless the home is sold or ceases to be the primary residence within three years. There are some exceptions: homes sold as part of a divorce settlement, homes destroyed in a natural disaster, homes subject to condemnation, etc.
To be eligible for the credit, the home cannot be inherited, received as a gift, or purchased from a spouse or related person. The credit applies to any type of new or existing dwelling. Even some houseboats and manufactured homes used as primary residences are eligible. The $8,000 tax credit phases out for individuals with modified annual gross income (MAGI) of $75,000 to $95,000 and married couples with MAGI of $150,000 to $170,000.
If any of your clients qualify for the first-time homebuyer tax credit, they can fill out the IRS Form 5405 and claim this amount on line 67 of their 1040 income tax form for 2009. For more information, visit the IRS Newsroom.
The above content is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with a tax advisor.
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