Q. What is the credit?
A. The first-time homebuyer credit is a tax credit for individuals and couples who purchase a new home after April 8, 2008, and before May 1, 2010. There are several versions of the credit depending upon when the home was purchased:
- For homes purchased in 2008, the credit, with some exceptions, must be repaid and takes the form of a $7,500 interest-free loan.
- For homes purchased in 2009 prior to November 7, the credit is for a maximum of $8,000 and, with some exceptions, does not have to be repaid, but it’s only for new home owners who have not owned a home in the prior three years.
- Beginning November 7, 2009, an additional category of new homebuyers, long-time residents (who owned their own homes), was added. The credit for this group is a maximum of $6,500, which, with some exceptions, does not have to be repaid. (1/27/10)
Q. How much is the credit?
A. The credit is 10 percent of the purchase price of the home, with a maximum available credit of $7,500 ($8,000 if you purchased your home in 2009 or early 2010) for either a single taxpayer or a married couple filing a joint return, but only half of that amount for married persons filing separate returns. The full credit is available for homes costing $75,000 or more ($80,000 in 2009 or early 2010). Long-time homeowners who buy a replacement home after Nov. 6, 2009, or in early 2010 may qualify for a credit of up to $6,500, or $3,250 for a married person filing a separate return. (11/19/09)
Q. Which home purchases qualify for the first-time homebuyer credit?
A. Any home purchased as your principal residence and located in the United States qualifies. You must buy the home after April 8, 2008, and before May 1, 2010 (with closing to take place before July 1), to qualify for the credit. For a home that you construct, the purchase date is considered to be the first date you occupy the home.
For homes purchased after April 8, 2008, and before November 7, 2009, taxpayers (including spouse, if married) who owned a principal residence at any time during the three years prior to the date of purchase are not eligible for the credit. This means that you can qualify for the credit if you (and your spouse, if married) have not owned a home in the three years prior to a purchase. For homes purchased after November 6, 2009, long-time residents can also get the credit under a special rule for a qualifying replacement home. To qualify, you must have owned and used the same home as your principal residence for at least five consecutive years of the eight-year period ending on the date you buy your new principal residence.
If you made an eligible purchase in 2008, you claim the first-time homebuyer credit on your 2008 tax return. For an eligible purchase in 2009, you can choose to claim the credit on either your 2008 or 2009 income tax return. For an eligible purchase in 2010, you can choose to claim the credit on either your 2009 or 2010 return. (1/27/09)
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