In a major victory for NAHB that will boost the fledgling housing recovery and help struggling business owners nationwide, Congress today approved legislation that will extend the first-time home buyer tax credit beyond its Nov. 30 deadline and expand it to a wider group of home buyers. The bill also provides relief to cash-strapped home builders by providing broader tax benefits for businesses with net operating losses (NOLs).
The legislation, which will be signed into law shortly by President Obama, will extend the $8,000 credit for first-time home buyers for sales contracts entered into by April 30, 2010 and closed by June 30. Further, it has been expanded to include a new $6,500 credit for owners of existing homes who are purchasing a new primary residence. An existing home owner can claim the $6,500 tax credit if they have been residing in their primary residence for five consecutive years out of the last eight.
In more good news, the income eligibility limits to claim the full credit amount for both groups of home buyers have been raised from $75,000 for single taxpayers and $150,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return to $125,000 for individuals and $225,000 for married couples. NAHB’s consumer-oriented Web site,www.federalhousingtaxcredit.
For NOLs, the new law will allow all businesses -- regardless of size -- with operating losses in 2008 or 2009, not both, to claim refunds on taxes paid up to five years ago. Businesses can offset 100% of taxable income with NOLs carried back in years one through four and offset 50% of income in year five. Small businesses with less than $15 million in gross receipts would be able to claim a five-year carryback for 2008 losses under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and for 2009 losses under the new law. The new net operating loss provisions will throw a lifeline to struggling businesses, allowing them to continue making payrolls, paying business loans and otherwise keep their doors open until the economic recovery takes hold.
Last Action on the Home Buyer Tax Credit
Even as Congress neared completion on the legislation, proponents made it perfectly clear that the home buyer tax credit would not be extended when it expires next year. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), a long-time champion of the home buyer tax credit, said: "This is the last extension of the home buyer tax credit. Tax credits like this only work by creating the sense of urgency to take advantage of it, and to bring the market back."
On the floor of the Senate, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said that, “It’s important that this tax credit does not become a permanent fixture in the tax code. Our amendment would end the credit on April 30 of next year. This extension would get us through the winter – traditionally the worst season for real estate. Our amendment would jump-start the housing market as it enters the summer months of 2010.” Baucus added that the seven-month extension of the tax credit would be “long enough to encourage home buyers to buy homes, but it’s short enough to remain fiscally responsible.” ...
Joe Robson, 2009 NAHB Chairman
More information on the tax credit and what it means to you: