$6,500-$8,000 for first time buyers and move-up, or repeat buyers:
- What is the definition of a first time home buyer?
Any individual who has not had an interest in a principal residence for 3 years prior to purchase; however, they can have owned a home prior to that 3 years.
- What is the definition of a move-up or repeat home buyer?
Qualified move-up or repeat home buyers purchasing any kind of home are eligible to claim the $6,500 credit.
The law defines a tax credit qualified move-up home buyer (“long-time resident”) as a person who has owned and resided in the same home for at least five consecutive years of the eight years prior to the purchase date. For married taxpayers, the law tests the homeownership history of both the home buyer and his/her spouse. That is, both spouses must qualify as long-time residents, with at least five years of principal residency for each. Repeat home buyers do not have to purchase a home that is more expensive than their previous home to qualify for the tax credit.
- What if two unmarried buyers allocate the tax credit and one qualifies for the $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit and the other qualifies for the $6,500 repeat home buyer credit?
The buyers can allocate the tax credit in any reasonable manner, provided neither claims a tax credit higher than the one they qualify for and the home purchase does not yield a total of more than $8,000 in tax credits. For example, the repeat home buyer could claim $6,500 and the first-time home buyer could claim $1,500. Alternatively, both buyers could claim a $4,000 tax credit.
- If I’m qualified for the tax credit and buy a home in 2009 (or 2010), can I apply the tax credit against my 2008 (or 2009) tax return?
Yes. The law allows taxpayers to choose (“elect”) to treat qualified home purchases in 2009 (or 2010) as if the purchase occurred on December 31, 2008 (or if in 2010, December 31, 2009). This means that the previous year’s income limit (MAGI) applies and the election accelerates when the credit can be claimed. A benefit of this election is that a home buyer in 2009 or 2010 will know their prior year MAGI with certainty, thereby helping the buyer know whether the income limit will reduce their credit amount.
Taxpayers buying a home who wish to claim it on their prior year tax return, but who have already submitted their tax return to the IRS, may file an amended return claiming the tax credit using Form 1040X. You should consult with a tax professional to determine how to arrange this.
- How do I claim the tax credit? Do I need to complete a form or application? Are there documentation requirements?
You claim the tax credit on your federal income tax return. Specifically, home buyers should complete IRS Form 5405 to determine their tax credit amount, and then claim this amount on line 67 of the 1040 income tax form for 2009 returns (line 69 of the 1040 income tax form for 2008 returns). Please note that although the Form is titled “First-Time Homebuyer Credit,” this is the correct form for claiming both the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit and $6,500 repeat buyer tax credit.
No other applications are required, and no pre-approval is necessary. However, you will want to be sure that you qualify for the credit under the income limits and repeat home buyer tests. Note that you cannot claim the credit on Form 5405 for an intended purchase for some future date; it must be a completed purchase. Home buyers must attach a copy of their HUD-1 settlement form (closing statement) to Form 5405 as proof of the completed home purchase. In cases where a HUD-1 form is not used, such as for construction of some new homes, you should attach a copy of the certificate of occupancy in lieu of the HUD-1.
Homebuyers should be sure to read the instructions for the revised IRS Form 5405 to be sure they meet the new program requirements.
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