Tax Credit to Aid First-Time Homebuyers; Must Be Repaid Over 15 Years
IR-2008-106, Sept. 16, 2008
WASHINGTON — First-time homebuyers should begin planning now to take advantage of a new tax credit included in the recently enacted Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008.
Available for a limited time only, the credit:
Applies to home purchases after April 8, 2008, and before July 1, 2009.
Reduces a taxpayer’s tax bill or increases his or her refund, dollar for dollar.
Is fully refundable, meaning that the credit will be paid out to eligible taxpayers, even if they owe no tax or the credit is more than the tax that they owe.
However, the credit operates much like an interest-free loan, because it must be repaid over a 15-year period. So, for example, an eligible taxpayer who buys a home today and properly claims the maximum available credit of $7,500 on his or her 2008 federal income tax return must begin repaying the credit by including one-fifteenth of this amount, or $500, as an additional tax on his or her 2010 return.
Eligible taxpayers will claim the credit on new IRS Form 5405. This form, along with further instructions on claiming the first-time homebuyer credit, will be included in 2008 tax forms and instructions and be available later this year on the IRS Web site.
If you bought a home recently, or are considering buying one, the following questions and answers may help you determine whether you qualify for the credit.
Taxpayers who owned a main home at any time during the three years prior to the date of purchase are not eligible for the credit. This means that first-time homebuyers and those who have not owned a home in the three years prior to a purchase can qualify for the credit.
If you make 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 amended 2008 return) or 2009 return.
You may need to adjust your withholding or make quarterly estimated tax payments to ensure you are not under-withheld.
However, some exceptions apply to the repayment rule.
If you die, any remaining annual installments are not due. If you filed a joint return and then you die, your surviving spouse would be required to repay his or her half of the remaining repayment amount.
If you stop using the home as your main home, all remaining annual installments become due on the return for the year that happens.
This includes situations where the main home becomes a vacation home or is converted to business or rental property.
There are special rules for involuntary conversions.
Taxpayers are urged to consult a professional to determine the tax consequences of an involuntary conversion.
If you sell your home, all remaining annual installments become due on the return for the year of sale. The repayment is limited to the amount of gain on the sale, if the home is sold to an unrelated taxpayer. If there is no gain or if there is a loss on the sale, the remaining annual installments may be reduced or even eliminated. Taxpayers are urged to consult a professional to determine the tax consequences of a sale.
If you transfer your home to your spouse, or, as part of a divorce settlement, to your former spouse, that person is responsible for making all subsequent installment payments.
For any tax related questions or to get help if you owe the IRS call a reputable tax resollutions firm.