- 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

How much house can I afford

Home buying 101, evaluating one of your most important financial decisions.

View Course »

How to Buy a Car

How to get the best deal and buy a car with confidence.

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

Video: Who Qualifies for an Affordable Care Act Exemption (Obamacare)?

The Affordable Care Act requires all Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty. But, who qualifies for an Affordable Care Act exemption? Find out more about who qualifies for an exemption from the Affordable Care Act tax penalty, how to claim an exemption on your tax return and how the Affordable Care Act may affect your taxes with this video from TurboTax.

Video: How to Claim the Affordable Care Act Premium Tax Credit (Obamacare)

The Affordable Care Act Premium Tax Credit is a new refundable tax credit that can lower your monthly health insurance premiums. If you qualify for the tax credit, you can claim the Premium Tax Credit throughout the year to lower your monthly health insurance premiums, or claim the credit with your tax return to either lower your overall tax bill or increase your tax refund.

Deducting Summer Camps and Daycare with the Child and Dependent Care Credit

If you paid a daycare center, babysitter, summer camp, or other care provider to care for a qualifying child under age 13 or a disabled dependent of any age, you may qualify for a tax credit of up to up to 35 percent of qualifying expenses of $3,000 for one child or dependent, or up to $6,000 for two or more children or dependents.

What Is Schedule H: Household Employment Taxes

If you hire people to do work around your house on a regular basis, they might be considered household employees. Being an employer comes with some responsibilities for paying and reporting employment taxes, which includes filing a Schedule H with your federal tax return. But even if you have household employees, filing Schedule H is required only if the total wages you pay them is more than certain threshold amounts specified by federal tax law.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum