Still lots of questions about the $8,000 First-Time Home buyer Tax Credit. Here are some answers:
What is the definition of a first-time home buyer?
You are considered a first-time homebuyer if:
- You purchased your main home located in the United States after April 8, 2008, and before December 1, 2009.
- You (and your spouse if married) did not own any other main home during the 3-year period ending on the date of purchase.
Do I have to pay the homebuyer tax credit back? How much is the credit for? $7,500 or $8,000?
It depends. For homes purchased in 2008, the $7,500 credit (or 10% of purchase price, if less) operates much like an interest-free loan. You generally can repay it equal installments over a 15-year period unless you move out or sell the home earlier than that. The maximum credit is reduced to $3,750 for married individuals filing separately.
For homes purchased in 2009, you must repay the $8,000 credit (or 10% of purchase price, if less) only if the home ceases to be your main home within the 36-month period beginning on the purchase date. The maximum credit is reduced to $4,000 for married individuals filing separately.
What is the definition of main home? Does a condo count? How about an RV?
Your main home is the one you live in most of the time. It can be a house, houseboat, housetrailer, cooperative apartment, condominium, or other type of residence.
What if I don’t owe or pay any income taxes?
This is a refundable tax credit, which means that even if you don’t owe any taxes, you will receive the credit amount via check or other means. For example, if before this credit you had a tax liability of $5,000 and withheld $4,000, you would owe the IRS $1,000. If you qualify and claim a $8,000 tax credit, you would now receive $7,000.
What are the income restrictions?
The amount of the credit begins to gradually phase out for taxpayers whose adjusted gross income is more than $75,000, or $150,000 for joint filers. It is completely phased out when your AGI is $90,000, or $170,000 for joint filers.
Can I just buy a home from a relative and pocket the $8,000?
You don’t qualify for the tax credit if you bought the house from a “related person.” According to the IRS, a related person includes:
- Your spouse, ancestors (parents, grandparents, etc.), or lineal descendants (children, grandchildren, etc.).
- A corporation in which you directly or indirectly own more than 50% in value of the outstanding stock of the corporation.
- A partnership in which you directly or indirectly own more than 50% of the capital interest or profits interest.
How do they determine the purchase date as applied to the cutoff dates?
If you bought an existing home, the date of purchase is your closing date, not the day that you sign a purchase contract or enter escrow. If you constructed a new home, you are treated as having purchased it on the date you first occupied it. (Seems like some wiggle-room here.)
What IRS Form Do I Have To Fill Out? Can I File For 2008 or 2009 Tax Years?
That would be the new revised version of IRS Form 5405 (where most of this information is from), which you fill out and attach to Form 1040. Any updated tax preparation software should be able to handle this. If you already bought your house in 2009, you can file either on your 2008 or 2009 tax returns. (Why not get it now?)
What if two unmarried people buy a house together?
If two or more unmarried individuals buy a main home, they can allocate the credit among the individual owners using any “reasonable” method. The total amount allocated cannot exceed the smaller of $7,500 ($8,000 if you purchased your home in 2009) or 10% of the purchase price. A “reasonable” method is any method that does not allocate all or a part of the credit to a co-owner who is not eligible to claim that part of the credit.
I am not a U.S. citizen. Can I still claim the tax credit?
If you are a resident alien according to IRS Pub 519 and satisfy all the other requirements, then yes you can claim the credit. Nonresident aliens are not eligible.