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With Congress reaching agreement on a $789 billion stimulus package for Americans and the President expected to sign it into law, the clock may be ticking for this year's home buyers and homeowners.
The package contains two benefits related to housing.
The first provision is fairly well-known. It gives first-time home buyers an $8,000 tax credit provided they purchase a home between January 1, 2009 and August 31, 2009.
This is a true tax credit.
To reduce misuse and abuse, however, the $8,000 credit is contingent on home buyers holding property for at least 3 years. If the home is sold in fewer than 3 years, the tax credit must be repaid to the government. It's also worth noting that the date range applies closings and not sales agreements.
Closings must occur within these 8 months to be eligible.
A second noteworthy feature in the package is that the stimulus package gives existing homeowners incentive to "green" their homes. With available tax credits for energy-efficient windows and doors, furnaces and insulation, homeowners can claim larger tax deductions based on home improvement, up to $1,500.
But, just because the government provides housing-related tax benefits doesn't mean you should just act on them blindly. Tax liability is a highly individual item and you may be ineligible for any number of reasons. Be sure to discuss your plans with a qualified accountant before committing to a plan.