- Published on Tuesday, 13 April 2010 17:00
- Written by Town Crier Report
Legislation signed by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week provides $200 million in new homebuyer tax credits to help stimulate the state’s housing market. The new credit becomes effective May 1, a day after the federal homebuyer tax credit expires April 30.
“We have seen the positive impact the federal homebuyer tax credit and last year’s state tax credit have had on California’s housing market,” said Jeff Bell, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors. “The new state tax credit will continue to bring stability to our marketplace.”
Nearly 40 percent of first-time homebuyers said they would not have purchased a home if the federal tax credit for first-time homebuyers were not offered, according to research conducted last year by the California Association of Realtors. California’s previous homebuyer tax credit program was so successful, it ran out of credits by the end of June 2009, eight months before it was set to expire.
This year’s state homebuyer tax credit is distinctly different from last year’s credit and the current federal homebuyer tax credit. The bill allocates $100 million for qualified first-time homebuyers of existing homes and $100 million for qualified homebuyers toward the purchase of new or previously unoccupied homes.
Key provisions of the new state homebuyer credit include:
•Â Credit cap is equal to the lesser of 5 percent of the purchase price or $10,000, and is disbursed in equal installments over three consecutive years.
•Â Purchasers are required to live in the home as their principal residence for at least two years, or forfeit the credit (i.e., repay it to the state).
•Â There are two different types of qualifying purchases: a single-family residence purchased by a first-time homebuyer (taxpayer who has had no ownership interest in a principal residence in the last three years) and a new single-family residence (home that has not been previously occupied).
•Â Credit is for purchases of qualified homes between May 1 and Dec. 31, 2010.
•Â Taxpayers may reserve a credit prior to the close of escrow for the purchase of a new home if the taxpayer and seller jointly sign and submit to the Franchise Tax Board a certification stating that they entered into an enforceable purchase contract on or after May 1 and on or before Dec. 31.
•Â Credit is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Bell said Californians have a brief window of opportunity to receive up to $18,000 in combined federal and state homebuyer tax credits, but buyers need to study the rules of both tax credits carefully.
To take advantage of both tax credits, a first-time homebuyer must enter into a purchase contract for a principal residence before May 1, and close escrow between May 1 and June 30, inclusive. Buyers who are not first-time homebuyers may use the same time frames to receive up to $16,500 in combined tax credits if they are longtime residents of their existing homes as permitted under federal law, and they purchase properties that have never been previously occupied as provided under California law.
Under the federal law slated to expire, a first-time homebuyer may receive up to $8,000 in tax credits and a longtime resident may receive up to $6,500, for certain purchase contracts entered into by April 30 that close escrow by June 30. Additionally, under a newly enacted California law, a homebuyer may receive up to $10,000 in tax credits as a first-time homebuyer or buyer of a property that has never been occupied. Other terms and restrictions apply to both tax credits.
“Much has been said about receiving $18,000 in combined homebuyer credits for a limited time, but timing is essential,” Bell said. “I would proceed with caution and consult your realtor and an experienced tax adviser if you think you will be able to qualify for both credits.”
For more information, visit www.ftb.ca.gov.