Over the course of the last year or so, I’ve written a lot about the Homebuyer Tax Credit. There are some faint rumblings among lobbyists and in Congress about whether it’s going to be extended yet again (I’m betting that it won’t), but for those who are already eligible, how exactly to claim the credit isn’t exactly … straightforward.
For one thing, there are two different credits with which to be concerned: the original First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit, and the extended Homebuyer Tax Credit. Each has different rules, each has its own set of quirks and foibles.
First, let’s recap who’s eligible to claim the credits in the first place.
If you purchased a home between January 1, 2009 and November 6, 2009, you may be eligible for the Homebuyer Tax Credit, as it originally stood.
To qualify, you (the buyer) must not have owned a home for three years prior to your purchase. Your new home must be your primary residence, meaning you can’t use it for a vacation home or an investment property — you actually have to live there. The maximum allowable credit is equal to 10% of the purchase price, up to $8,000. Single buyers with incomes up to $75,000 per year or married couples with incomes of up to $150,000 are eligible.
That’s pretty clear. When it comes to the extended tax credit, things are a bit hazier.
If you purchased (or if you intend to purchase) a home between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010, you may qualify for the extended Homebuyer Tax Credit.
If you are a first-time homebuyer (meaning that you hadn’t owned home for at least three years prior to your purchase) OR a current homeowner who had lived in a house as a primary residence for five years in a row out of the last eight, you may qualify.
For first-time homebuyers, the maximum allowable credit is $8000. For current homeowners, the maximum credit is $6,500. As with the original credit, the buyer’s eligibility depends on the price of the home (this may not exceed $800,000) and his income. For the extended credit, income levels were increased to $125,000 for single buyers and to $225,000 for married couples. Even if your income exceeds these levels, check with your tax professional to see if you might qualify for a portion of the credit.
As long as there is a contract to purchase in place prior to April 30, 2010, and so long as that transaction is closed before July 1, 2010, buyers can claim the credit on their 2009 income tax returns.
In all cases, buyers will need IRS Form 5405, as well as a fully-executed HUD-1 statement from the property closing.
As always, be sure to consult your tax professional for any questions that you may have on matters such as these. The tax credit won’t be around forever; be sure to take advantage if you’re able!