South Orange County Blog from Bob Phillips

The Home Buyer Tax Credit Extension Has Not Been Passed Into Law (Yet)

Posted in Tax Tips by southorangecounty on June 18, 2010

Tax credit was not extended -- yetAs its June 30, 2010 closing deadline approaches, the federal home buyer tax credit is back in the news.

Unfortunately, the headlines are misleading.

Contrary to what you may have read (or heard), the federal home buyer tax credit has not been extended past June 30, 2010. At least not yet. And here’s why there’s confusion.

Look at these headlines from earlier this week:

  • Senate Extends Date On Home-Buying Tax Credit (Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • U.S. Senate Approves Extension Of Home Buyer Tax Credit (NASDAQ)
  • Senate Approves Home Tax Credit Extension (Reuters)

Now, nothing above is factually incorrect, but each neglects a key piece of the country’s law-making process — it takes more than the Senate to pass a law. For a bill to become a law, it must pass the Senate and the House of Representatives and then it must be ratified by the President.

To date, we’ve only cleared just one of those 3 steps.

This means that the federal home buyer tax credit has not been formally extended. As of now, it’s still in discussion.  Ultimately, though, if the extension does pass, it’s expected to extend the closing date deadline for Trabuco Canyon home buyers beyond the original June 30, 2010 date into September 2010.

Homeowners must still have been in contract as of April 30, 2010 to claim up to $8,000 in federal tax credits.

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Tax credit deadline ignites buying frenzy

Posted in home affordability, Real estate, taxes by southorangecounty on May 2, 2010

April 30th, 2010, · posted by Jeff Collins of the Orange County Register
 

A lot of last-minute homebuying decisions were made Friday as buyers rushed to qualify for a federal tax credit that expired that day.

Buyers needed to have a signed contracts in hand to get a credit of $8,000 for first-time buyers and $6,500 for repeat buyers. They also must close escrow by June 30.

“I think there’s definitely some last-minute scurrying around,” said Tustin agent Charles Folcke. “I’m sure that if some offers are accepted (this weekend), agents are going to backdate it.”

“Lots of quick decisions (were) made this week from our fabulous last-minute type of folks,” added Huntington Beach agent Vivian Young. “I’ve been showing property for lots of clients the entire month to quickly get them under contract before the month ends.”

Broker Steve Thomas of Altera Real Estate reported that the number of deals signed increased 6.2 percent from two weeks ago and 10 percent over the past month.

“Buyers are pushing their way into escrow, but I think the momentum will carry even after the expiration,” Thomas said.

Coto de Caza agent Bob Phillips spent part of Friday dashing from Santa Ana to Capistrano Beach, then to a listing agent’s office to get a signed contract to an East Coast bank in time for its approval.

His clients got outbid Thursday, after offering $11,000 over the asking price on a bank-owned home. His cell phone rang at 6 a.m. Friday with news that the top bidder got cold feet and backed out.

He had to drive to both clients’ work places to get their signatures, then dash over to the listing agent’s office for the bank’s approval.

“I am now going to drive to Dana Point to open the escrow before they close at 5 p.m.,” he said Friday. “It has been an exciting day.”

Several agents noted that buyers stopped looking at homes listed as short sales, or selling below what’s owed the bank, since lenders typically are pokey in responding to offers.

Thomas and others predicted that the $200,000 set aside for the California tax credit likely will be exhausted in a month, rather than in the seven months allotted for it.

“There is still a lot of confusion about the California tax credit, which will last about a minute,” Thomas said. “The first 17,500 lucky first-time home buyers win and everybody else is going to be upset.”

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Don’t Leave Tax Credits On The Table (And How To Get Them Back If You Already Filed)

Posted in Real estate, taxes by southorangecounty on April 8, 2010

Taxes are due April 15 and if you’re among the millions of Americans who wait until the last week to file, below is a linked video interview that could help you reduce your federal tax liability. 

Originally broadcast by NBC’s The Today Show, the 4-minute piece reviews various tax credits and deductions, plus some recent tax law changes.  A few of the topics covered include:

  • Tax filers receiving larger “personal exemptions” in 2009 versus 2008
  • Unemployment income recipients being required pay taxes beyond the first $2,400 received
  • The “first time” home buyer credit being extended to non-first time home buyers for up to $6,500

The interview also talks about how taking a parent, child or other family member into your home may change your tax filing status and reduce your tax liability.

Even if you’ve filed your taxes already, watch the video above. You may find that you missed a potential deduction. If that’s the case, consider filing an amended return with the IRS to recapture the credits you left on the table.  Most times, the benefits of re-filing will outweigh the costs of doing it.

Be sure to talk with your tax professional for personal tax advice.

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The Federal Home Buyer Tax Credit Enters Its Home Stretch — 30 Days Left

Posted in Real estate, taxes by southorangecounty on April 1, 2010

Federal home buyer tax creditThere’s just 30 days remaining to use the federal home buyer tax credit.

The credit ranges up to $8,000 for first-time homebuyers, and up to $6,500 for existing homeworkers who have lived in their main home for 5 of the last 8 years.

Claiming the federal tax credit is a two-step process. First, you must be under contract for a new home on or before April 30, 2010.  Then, you must close on said home on or before June 30, 2010. 

There are no exceptions on the dates.

Timeline aside, homebuyers and the subject property must also meet minimum requirements in order to be tax credit-eligible:

  • You can’t purchase the home from a parent, spouse, or child
  • You can’t purchase the home from an entity in which the seller is a majority owner
  • You can’t acquire the home by gift or inheritance
  • Each buyer in the purchase must meet eligibility requirements
  • The home sale price may not exceed $800,000
  • Buyers may not earn more than $125,000 as single-filers; $225,000 as joint-filers

The complete eligibility checklist is published on the IRS website.  Or, if you find IRS-speak too difficult, make a phone call to your accountant.  Asking a tax professional’s advice on a tax-related matter is never a time-waster.

And lastly, don’t forget that if you’re claiming to federal tax credit for home buyers, it’s a tax credit and not a deduction.  This means that a tax filer who qualifies for the full $8,000 and for whom the “normal” federal tax liability is $8,000, will owe no federal taxes in 2010 to the IRS.

If you’re an active buyer , mark your calendar for April 30, 2010. It’s 30 days from now and, as the date gets closer, buyer traffic will increase. The likely result is higher home prices and more difficult negotiations.  The best time to act may be today.

Of course here in California we have an even better reason to act soon, as the Governor recently signed a bill giving the state’s homebuyers up to an additional $10,000 tax credit. For escrows that close between May 1st and June 30th, buyers MAY be eligible for up to $18,000 in total credits between the Federal and State’s programs. That is a BIG incentive to get off the fence!

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Some first time California home buyers seem poised to get $18,000 in tax credits.

Posted in Down payment assistance, home affordability, Real estate, taxes by southorangecounty on March 28, 2010

There is an interesting wrinkle with the new bill just signed by Governor Schwarzenegger, regarding tax credits for California home buyers – state bill AB 183.

Here is some language from that bill: “Requires buyers to close escrow between May 1 and Dec. 31 to qualify.” ( For an up to $10,000. tax credit.)

The interesting part of that is this: The Federal first time homebuyer tax credit of up to $8000. clearly states that “The credit is available for homes purchased after November 6, 2009 and on or before April 30, 2010. However, in cases where a binding sales contract is signed by April 30, 2010, the home purchase qualifies provided it is completed by June 30, 2010.” ( From the Government’s Making Home Affordable website: http://www.federalhousingtaxcredit.com/glance.php )

So, if I read that correctly – and remember, I am NOT a qualified tax preparer, or attorney – that seems to suggest that if you are IN escrow before May 1st, 2010, and close escrow prior to July 1st, 2010, you might qualify to receive BOTH tax credits.

If you happen to be one of those fortunate California home buyers, and you seem to qualify, you should definitely look into this potential windfall.

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