- The Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 has established a tax credit of up to $6,500 for qualified move-up/repeat home buyers (existing home owners) purchasing a principal residence after November 6, 2009 and on or before April 30, 2010 (or purchased by June 30, 2010 with a binding sales contract signed by April 30, 2010). The following questions and answers provide basic information about the tax credit. If you have more specific questions, we strongly encourage you to consult a qualified tax advisor or legal professional about your unique situation.Who is eligible to claim the $6,500 tax credit?
Qualified move-up or repeat home buyers purchasing any kind of home are eligible to claim this credit.
- What is the definition of a move-up or repeat home buyer?
The law defines a tax credit qualified move-up home buyer (“long-time resident”) as a home owner who has owned and resided in a 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. Repeat home buyers do not have to purchase a home that is more expensive than their previous home to qualify for the tax credit.
- How is the amount of the tax credit determined?
The tax credit is equal to 10 percent of the home’s purchase price up to a maximum of $6,500. Purchases of homes priced above $800,000 are not eligible for the tax credit.
- Are there any income limits for claiming the tax credit?
Yes. The income limit for single taxpayers is $125,000; the limit is $225,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return. The tax credit amount is reduced for buyers with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) above those limits. The phaseout range for the tax credit program is equal to $20,000. That is, the tax credit amount is reduced to zero for taxpayers with MAGI of more than $145,000 (single) or $245,000 (married) and is reduced proportionally for taxpayers with MAGIs between these amounts.
- What is “modified adjusted gross income”?
Modified adjusted gross income or MAGI is defined by the IRS. To find it, a taxpayer must first determine “adjusted gross income” or AGI. AGI is total income for a year minus certain deductions (known as “adjustments” or “above-the-line deductions”), but before itemized deductions from Schedule A or personal exemptions are subtracted. On Forms 1040 and 1040A, AGI is the last number on page 1 and the first number on page 2 of the form. For Form 1040-EZ, AGI appears on line 4 (as of 2007). Note that AGI includes all forms of income including wages, salaries, interest income, dividends and capital gains.To determine modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), add to AGI certain amounts of foreign-earned income. See IRS Form 5405 for more details.
- If my modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) is above the limit, do I qualify for any tax credit?
Possibly. It depends on your income. Partial credits of less than $6,500 are available for some taxpayers whose MAGI exceeds the phaseout limits.
- Can you give me an example of how the partial tax credit is determined?
Just as an example, assume that a married couple has a modified adjusted gross income of $235,000. The applicable phaseout to qualify for the tax credit is $225,000, and the couple is $10,000 over this amount. Dividing $10,000 by the phaseout range of $20,000 yields 0.5. When you subtract 0.5 from 1.0, the result is 0.5. To determine the amount of the partial first-time home buyer tax credit that is available to this couple, multiply $6,500 by 0.5. The result is $3,250.Here’s another example: assume that an individual home buyer has a modified adjusted gross income of $138,000. The buyer’s income exceeds $125,000 by $13,000. Dividing $13,000 by the phaseout range of $20,000 yields 0.65. When you subtract 0.65 from 1.0, the result is 0.35. Multiplying $6,500 by 0.35 shows that the buyer is eligible for a partial tax credit of $2,275.
Please remember that these examples are intended to provide a general idea of how the tax credit might be applied in different circumstances. You should always consult your tax advisor for information relating to your specific circumstances.