A new law that went into effect Nov. 6 extends the first-time homebuyer tax credit over five months and expands eligibility requirements to existing homeowners.
The Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 extends the deadline for qualifying home purchases from Nov. 30, 2009, to April 30, 2010. Additionally, if a buyer enters into a binding contract by April 30, 2010, the buyer has until June 30, 2010, to settle on the purchase.
The maximum credit amount remains at $8,000 for a first-time homebuyer –– that is, a buyer who has not owned a primary residence during the three years up to the date of purchase.
But the new law also provides a “long-time resident” credit of up to $6,500 to others who do not qualify as “first-time homebuyers.” To qualify this way, a buyer must have owned and used the same home as a principal or primary residence for at least five consecutive years of the eight-year period ending on the date of purchase of a new home as a primary residence.
For all qualifying purchases in 2010, taxpayers have the option of claiming the credit on either their 2009 or 2010 tax returns.
A new version of Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit, will be available in the next few weeks.
A taxpayer who purchases a home after Nov. 6 must use this new version of the form to claim the credit. Likewise, taxpayers claiming the credit on their 2009 returns, no matter when the house was purchased, must also use the new version of Form 5405.
Taxpayers who claim the credit on their 2009 tax return will not be able to file electronically but instead will need to file a paper return.
A taxpayer who purchased a home on or before Nov. 6 and chooses to claim the credit on an original or amended 2008 return may continue to use the current version of Form 5405.
Income Limits Rise
The new law raises the income limits for people who purchase homes after Nov. 6.
The full credit will be available to taxpayers with modified adjusted gross incomes(MAGI) up to $125,000, or $225,000 for joint filers. Those with MAGI between $125,000 and $145,000, or $225,000 and $245,000 for joint filers, are eligible for a reduced credit. Those with higher incomes do not qualify.
For homes purchased prior to Nov. 7, 2009, existing AGI limits remain in place. The full credit is available to taxpayers with MAGI up to $75,000, or $150,000 for joint filers. Those with MAGI between $75,000 and $95,000, or $150,000 and $170,000 for joint filers, are eligible for a reduced credit. Those with higher incomes do not qualify.
Several new restrictions on purchases that occur after Nov. 6 go into effect with the new law:
Dependents are not eligible to claim the credit.
No credit is available if the purchase price of a home is more than $800,000.
A purchaser must be at least 18 years of age on the date of purchase.
Members of the Military Members of the Armed Forces and certain federal employees serving outside the U.S. have an extra year to buy a principal residence in the U.S. and still qualify for the credit. An eligible taxpayer must buy or enter into a binding contract to buy a home by April 30, 2011, and settle on the purchase by June 30, 2011. This special rule also applies to certain other federal employees.