Debra A. Simmons, CPA

Essential Facts about Claiming the First-Time Homebuyer Credit

In Income Taxes on February 9, 2011 at 10:36 pm

If you purchased a home in 2010, you may be eligible to claim the First-Time Homebuyer Credit, whether you are a first-time homebuyer or a long-time resident purchasing a new home. The purchaser must have been at least 18 years old on the date of purchase; for a married couple, only one spouse must meet this age requirement. A dependent is not eligible to claim the credit.

Here are eight things you should know about claiming the credit:

1. You must have bought – or entered into a binding contract to buy – a principal residence located in the United States on or before April 30, 2010. If you entered into a binding contract by April 30, 2010, you must have closed on the home on or before September 30, 2010.
2. To be considered a first-time homebuyer, you and your spouse – if you are married – must not have jointly or separately owned another principal residence during the three years prior to the date of purchase.
3. To be considered a long-time resident homebuyer you and your spouse – if you are married – must have lived in the same principal residence for any consecutive five-year period during the eight-year period that ended on the date the new home is purchased.
4. The maximum credit for a first-time homebuyer is $8,000, half that amount for married individuals filing separately. The maximum credit for a long-time resident homebuyer is $6,500. Married individuals filing separately are limited to $3,250.
5. You must file a paper return and attach Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit and Repayment of the Credit with additional documents to verify the purchase. Therefore, if you claim the credit you will not be able to file electronically.
6. New homebuyers must attach a copy of a properly executed settlement statement used to complete such purchase. Buyers of a newly constructed home, where a settlement statement is not available, must attach a copy of the dated certificate of occupancy. Mobile home purchasers who are unable to get a settlement statement must attach a copy of the retail sales contract.
7. If you are a long-time resident claiming the credit, the IRS recommends that you also attach any documentation covering the five-consecutive-year period, including Form 1098, Mortgage Interest Statement or substitute mortgage interest statements, property tax records or homeowner’s insurance records.
8. Members of the military and certain other federal employees serving outside the U.S. have an extra year to buy a principal residence in the U.S. and qualify for the credit.

For additional information on the homebuyer credit, contact Debbie at (310) 701-1825.

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