Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview
Overview of Fayetteville, AR

Saturday, August 30, 2008

First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit Explained

There has been so much talk about the recently enacted “Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008” and its numerous, complicated provisions that I thought I’d take a few moments to summarize the part you are probably most interested in – the First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit.

You are considered a first-time homebuyer if you have not had any ownership interest in a home in the 3-year period preceding date of purchase.

Closing date of the home must be between April 9, 2008 and June 30, 2009.

The tax credit is 10% of the purchase price up to a maximum credit of $7,500.

A single person with income up to $75,000 qualifies for the full credit. Income between $75,000 and $95,000 qualifies for a prorated portion of the $7,500 credit.

Married couples with income up to $150,000 qualify for the full credit. Income between $150,000 and $170,000 qualifies for a prorated portion of the $7,500 credit.

The credit will be applied against income tax liability. When the tax return is compiled in the usual manner, the credit would be used to lower tax liability dollar for dollar. For example, if total tax liability was $9,000, the credit would reduce the liability to $1,500. This has nothing to do with how much withholding you may have already paid. If your tax liability was $9,000 and you had already paid in $9,000 through withholding, you would receive a check for $7,500.

If total tax liability was $1,000, and you had not paid any withholding, the excess credit of $6,500 would be refunded to the taxpayer.

There are no provisions to get the credit before filing the income tax return in 2009. However, a homebuyer who qualifies for the credit could immediately reduce his withholding at his place of employment (or reduce estimated payments to IRS).

But there is a catch. It’s not “free money.”

The credit has been referred to as an interest-free loan, and with good reason. The credit must actually be repaid at the rate of 6.67% ($502.50) per year for 15 years, beginning with the filing of the 2010 tax return in spring of 2011. No interest will be charged. Let’s say a taxpayer was due a refund of $1,000 on his 2010 return. His refund would be reduced to $497.50 after repaying $502.50).

If the home was sold at a profit before the 15-year payback period ended, the unpaid balance would be deducted from the profit before the proceeds were paid to the seller. If the home was sold at a loss, the balance of the payback would be forgiven.

If the taxpayer dies before paying back all the credit, the unpaid balance would be forgiven.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is my interpretation of the basic provisions of the Homebuyer Tax Credit. I have tried to simplify things to give a picture of what is now available but I give no guarantees. There are many complicated provisions I haven’t touched upon. As with most new laws, many details will need to be worked out, defined, and applied. You should check with your tax preparer for further provisions of the law.

And whether it’s worth it for you to apply for the credit will depend on your personal financial situation. If you need money to tide you over these tough economic times, it may be worth your while. Just keep in mind that you do have to pay it back in future years.

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