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.

For more information:


Saturday, August 23, 2008

It’s Back to Square 1 for Fayetteville High School

University of Arkansas has withdrawn its offer to purchase the Fayetteville High School. High school officials were taken off guard and were extremely surprised by the move.

The final version of $50 million offer would probably have contained some provisions for the school district to lease back the property while waiting for a new high school to be built. Now, all that is off the table and the district is back to square one.

It’s been a long, convoluted process to get back to the starting point. Space and time do not permit much detail here, but a brief summary will help:

· After lengthy deliberations, extensive research, committee meetings, and input from the public, Fayetteville School Board decided to have one high school grades 9-12.

· A new high school should be built as opposed to remodeling the existing school.

The best location would be the “Morningside” property in south Fayetteville.

The current 40-acre high school campus would be offered to University of Arkansas for $59 million, a sum that fell between independent appraisals conducted by both entities. Deadline for response to the offer was July 1, 2008.

U of A countered on June 6 with its offer of $50 million. The offer did not contain a deadline.

A group of independent investors stepped forward to request a 60-day option on the property. If granted, the option would preclude any other sale during that time. If the investors decided to buy the property, they would pay $60 million.

The school district took no action on the option offer. Subsequently, the investors withdrew their request.

On August 21, citing a decision to not leave the offer in limbo any longer, U of A officials withdrew their $50 million offer to purchase the existing campus.

It’s possible the U of A may reconsider purchasing the property at some point in the future.

Stay tuned for the next move.

For more information:





Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Benton County Property Appraisals - The Saga Continues

Don’t lose this phone number: 479-271-1037. If you can get through the busy signals, it will connect you to the Benton County Assessor’s office where you can make an appointment to meet with the Equalization Board if you feel your property has been assessed too high.

Property owners who are unable to get through to the Assessor's may stop by the office in the Benton County Administration Building, fax a letter of request to (479 ) 271-1073 or mail a letter to the attention of Cathy Lee, scheduler for the Equalization Board, 215 E. Central Ave., Bentonville, AR 72712.

All letters requesting an appointment with the board should include the property owner's name, address, phone number and parcel number. If residents chose to mail a letter requesting a meeting, they should send the letter via certified mail.

Keep in mind you must contact the assessor’s office before August 20. The board will meet from August 1 to October 1 to hear why you believe your property value is incorrect. Bring along some evidence such as an independent appraisal of the property or a new mortgage on the property.

The board can adjust the property values for three reasons:
--The assessment is unfair compared with other lands of the same kind, similarly situated.
--It is appraised higher than neighboring properties with the same uses, size, materials and conditions.
--The assessment is clearly erroneous.
--The assessment is manifestly excessive.

On the one hand, we can’t point too hard at the assessor’s office for the high numbers. Assessments must be done every third year but it takes time to assess all the parcels. People must go out and physically inspect the properties. Things were still flying high during much of 2007 when the appraisals were being conducted. It was late 2007 and into 2008 when things started spiraling downhill.

On the other hand, however, I was distressed to read that when one property value has been readjusted, all similarly situated property should automatically be re-examined and that part of the law has been ignored.

Many Benton County residents have become galvanized to fight the increased appraisals. On Monday night the NW Arkansas Property Rights Association hosted a town meeting to inform residents of their rights and to help them get some answers. Present at the meeting were County Assessor Bill Moutray; Sen. Kim Hendren, R-Gravette; Larry Kelly, a local real-estate agent; Benton County Appraiser Charles Hudson Jr.; and Benton County Clerk Mary Lou Slinkard.

Now that property owner’s concerns are being brought to the forefront, Benton County officials will hopefully be taking a more proactive approach to protecting owner’s rights.

For more information:

My blog postings dated July 12 and July 29 - http://nwarealestateblog.blogspot.com/