New legislation, the Worker, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act of 2009, which was signed into law on Nov. 6, 2009, extends and expands the first-time homebuyer credit allowed by previous Acts. The new law:
Extends deadlines for purchasing and closing on a home.
Authorizes the credit for long-time homeowners buying a replacement principal residence.
Raises the income limitations for homeowners claiming the credit.
For the first time, long-time homeowners who buy a replacement principal residence may also claim a homebuyer credit of up to $6,500 (up to $3,250 for a married individual filing separately). They must have lived in the same principal residence for any five-consecutive year period during the eight-year period that ended on the date the replacement home is purchased.
People with higher incomes can now qualify for the credit. The new law raises the income limits for homes purchased after Nov. 6, 2009. The credit phases out for individual taxpayers with modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) between $125,000 and $145,000 or between $225,000 and $245,000 for joint filers. The existing MAGI phase-outs of $75,000 to $95,000 or $150,000 to $170,000 for joint filers still apply to purchases on or before Nov. 6, 2009.
Homebuyers who purchased a home in 2008 or 2009 may be able to take advantage of the first-time homebuyer credit. The credit:
Applies only to homes used as a taxpayer’s principal residence.
Reduces a taxpayer’s tax bill or increases his or her refund, dollar for dollar.
Is fully refundable, meaning the credit will be paid out to eligible taxpayers, even if they owe no tax or the credit is more than the tax owed.
The credit is claimed using Form 5405, which you file with your original or amended tax return.
For home purchased in 2009, the credit does not have to be paid back unless the home ceases to be the taxpayer’s main residence within a three-year period following the purchase.
First-time homebuyers who purchase a home in 2009 can claim the credit on either a 2008 tax return, due April 15, 2009, or a 2009 tax return, due April 15, 2010. The credit may not be claimed before the closing date. But, if the closing occurs after April 15, 2009, a taxpayer can still claim it on a 2008 tax return by requesting an extension of time to file or by filing an amended return. News release 2009-27 has more information on these options.