- Days left
Just as "cash for clunkers" boosted auto sales, another federal program introduced this year aimed at first-time home buyers is driving home sales and helping to salvage the nation's beleaguered residential real-estate market. And if you want to get in on the action -- up to $8,000 worth -- you'd better hurry, as the incentive is set to expire Nov. 30.

So far, 1.4 million Americans have taken advantage of the first-time home buyer provision, contained with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, according to the Internal Revenue Service. It gives those who have never owned a home or haven't owned one within the last three years a credit of 10% of the price of the home, up to an $8,000 maximum.


It's a good deal for consumers since the rebate isn't tied to how much wage earners will have paid in income taxes in 2009. In other words, even if buyers haven't paid a dime in income taxes this year, they will still get a check from Uncle Sam. In most cases, the full $8,000 credit will be available to purchasers of homes costing $80,000 or more.

There are income restrictions, however. Single filers who earn more than $75,000 up to $95,000 in 2009 will receive only a portion of the credit, while households filing a joint return must earn less than $150,000 to qualify for the full credit and less than $170,000 to receive partial credit.

The National Association of Realtors estimates some 1.8 million Americans will take advantage of the first-time home buyer program by the Nov. 30 expiration date.

The looming deadline, which leaves home buyers at this point only about 80 days to find a home, make an accepted offer and get the deal closed, has housing-industry advocates pushing for an extension of the program.

"We're calling for extending the credit until the end of next year and expanding it to all home buyers," said NAR spokesman Walter Molony told CNNMoney.com. "We do think that housing will recover without it but the market will come back faster and stronger with it," he said Molony.

Others aren't so sanguine about the residential housing market's ability to maintain momentum should the tax credit be allowed to sunset. "Just like the 'cash for clunkers' program, there could be a hangover effect," Mike Larson, real-estate analyst at Weiss Research told CNNMoney.

Congress shares concern that the housing market may once again soften should the tax credit expire, which is why there are more than a dozen bills introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate to extend the program.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid endorsed the idea of extending the credit for an additional six months. The Democrat's home state, Nevada, has among the highest rates of home foreclosures in the nation.

Some lawmakers, however, are balking at the cost, which may hit an estimated $15 billion -- more than double the amount projected in the economic stimulus bill that President Obama signed in February.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Investing in Real Estate

Learn the basics of investing in real estate.

View Course »

Goal Setting

Want to succeed? Then you need goals!

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

Employer Sponsored Health Coverage Explained

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is simpler than some people may give it credit for. The basic rule to remember is that everyone must carry Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) or pay a penalty. Employers with 50 full-time employees or more are obligated to sponsor plans for their workers to help them meet this requirement.

How to Report RSUs or Stock Grants on Your Tax Return

Restricted stock units (RSUs) and stock grants are often used by companies to reward their employees with an investment in the company rather than with cash. As the name implies, RSUs have rules as to when they can be sold. Stock grants often carry restrictions as well. How your stock grant is delivered to you, and whether or not it is vested, are the key factors when determining tax treatment.

What is a Schedule Q Form?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has two very different forms that go by the name Schedule Q. One of them is for people who participate in certain real estate investments; this is known as a Form 1066 Schedule Q. The other Schedule Q deals with employer benefit plans. It?s not something an individual taxpayer would normally have to deal with, though a small business owner might need it.

Incentive Stock Options

Some employers use Incentive Stock Options (ISOs) as a way to attract and retain employees. While ISOs can offer a valuable opportunity to participate in your company's growth and profits, there are tax implications you should be aware of. We'll help you understand ISOs and fill you in on important timetables that affect your tax liability, so you can optimize the value of your ISOs.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum