CA Tax Credit Short-Lived?

C.A.R. whipping up some frenzy….

The $100 million allocated for California’s first-time homebuyer tax credits may be depleted in about 10 to 20 days or sooner, according to C.A.R.’s Economics team.

California’s Franchise Tax Board (FTB) plans to begin accepting applications on May 1, 2010 for tax credits up to $10,000 for first-time homebuyers and for homes that have never been previously occupied.  However, the total tax credit allocation for all taxpayers is $100 million for first-time homebuyers and $100 million for new homes, both on a first-come, first-served basis.

C.A.R.’s forecast of 10 to 20 days to deplete the $100 million allocation for first-time home buyers is based on estimated May sales figures and other parameters.  It does not take into account the possibility that buyers scheduled to close escrow in April may delay closing until May to take advantage of the tax credit.  If a shift in closings from April to May occurs, the first-time homebuyer tax credits may be depleted even more quickly than indicated above.

Applications for the California tax credit must be faxed to the FTB after escrow closes.  The FTB will update its website when the 2010 application form and other information become available:

REALTORS® are reminded not to give their clients any tax or legal advice, such as the availability of funds under the California tax credit program.  Agents should encourage their clients to seek specific advice from an accountant, attorney, or other professional as they deem appropriate.

C.A.R. Housing Tax Credit Worksheet

CA State Tax Credit Details

Details on the 2010 California Tax Credit were released today, click here for the link to the website for the whole package:

 Here are the highlights: 

The New Home / First-Time Buyer Credits are available only for purchases that close escrow on or after May 1, 2010. 

Applying for the 2010 New Home/First Time Buyer tax credits:  Applications must be submitted after escrow closes. The new application will be available by May 1, 2010.  We will deny the application if the 2009 form is used or if we receive the 2010 application before May 1, 2010.

General Information: These tax credits are available for taxpayers who purchase a qualified principal residence on or after May 1, 2010, and before January 1, 2011. Additionally, the New Home Credit is available for taxpayers who purchase a qualified principal residence on or after December 31, 2010, and before August 1, 2011, pursuant to an enforceable contract executed on or before December 31, 2010.  The purchase date is defined as the date escrow closes.

These tax credits are limited to the lesser of 5 percent of the purchase price or $10,000 for a qualified principal residence. Taxpayers must apply the total tax credit in equal amounts over 3 successive tax years (maximum of $3,333 per year) beginning with the tax year in which the home is purchased. The tax credits cannot reduce regular tax below tentative minimum tax (TMT). The tax credits are nonrefundable and unused credits cannot be carried over.

The total amount of allocated tax credit for all taxpayers may not exceed $100 million for the New Home Credit and $100 million for the First-Time Buyer Credit. However, since many taxpayers will not be able to utilize the entire tax credit, the legislation specifies that the $100 million cap for the New Home Credit will be reduced by 70 percent of the tax credit allocated to each buyer and the $100 million cap for the First-Time Buyer Credit will be reduced by 57 percent of the tax credit allocated to each buyer. We will allocate the tax credits on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Only one tax credit is allowed per taxpayer. If a taxpayer qualifies for both tax credits, the law specifies that we will allocate the amount under the New Home Credit.

Taxpayers will not be eligible for either tax credit if any of the following apply:

  • The taxpayer was allowed a 2009 New Home Credit.
  • The taxpayer is under 18 years old. (A taxpayer who is married as of the date of purchase will be considered to be 18 if the spouse/registered domestic partner (RDP) of the taxpayer is 18 or older on the date of purchase.)
  • The taxpayer or the taxpayer’s spouse/RDP is related to the seller.
  • The taxpayer qualifies as a dependent of any other taxpayer for the tax year of the purchase.

First-Time Buyer Credit:  A qualified principal residence, for purposes of the First-Time Buyer Credit, must:

  • Be a single family residence, either detached or attached.
  • Be eligible for the California property tax homeowner’s exemption.
  • Be occupied by the taxpayer as their principal residence for a minimum of 2 years immediately following the purchase.

A first-time buyer is any individual (and the individual’s spouse/RDP, if married) who did not have an ownership interest in a principal residence during the preceding 3 year period ending on the date of the purchase of the qualified principal residence.

If you are only applying for the First-Time Buyer Credit, you will not be able to reserve the tax credit before escrow closes.

Claiming the tax credit:

  • The taxpayer must receive a Certificate of Allocation from us to claim the tax credit on their California personal income tax return. The Certificate of Allocation will state the maximum amount the taxpayer can claim listed by tax year.
  • The taxpayer should refer to the 2010 New Home / First-Time Buyer Credit Publication for instructions on claiming the tax credit (the publication will be available by December, 2010).
  • Special rules apply to married/RDP taxpayers filing separately, in which case each spouse/RDP is entitled to one-half of the tax credit, even if their ownership percentages are not equal. For 2 or more taxpayers who are not married/RDP, the tax credit amount will have already been allocated to each taxpayer occupying the residence on their respective tax credit allocation letter.
  • If the available tax credit exceeds the current year net tax, the unused tax credit may not be carried over to the following tax year.
  • The tax credit may not reduce regular tax below TMT.
  • The tax credit is not refundable.
  • Any disallowance of the tax credit may not be protested or appealed.


Double Cheese Burger

Thanks to Mark for sending along this confirmation of first-time home buyers being able to claim both the federal and state tax credits, from the WSJ:

But, it might not get off to a peaceful start on May 1: Get ready for a stampede early on as some buyers rush to overlap with the federal tax credit that’s dangling as much as $8,000 to buyers. (Yes, that’s up to $18,000 for buying a house.)

For the federal incentive, contracts must be inked by April 30, while closings have to happen by June 30. The California credit covers closings on existing or new homes on or after May 1, leaving a short window for double dipping. “We already anticipated increased contract activity in March and April due to the federal tax credit with scheduled closings in May and June,” writes Credit Suisse builder analyst Dan Oppenheim. “These buyers will now be eligible for both the federal and state credit and will likely consume a significant piece of the state credit given the first-come, first-serve allocation.”

He estimates the tax credit will benefit about 14,000 new-home buyers, lasting as long as five months. KB Home and Lennar could benefit the most given “their outsized exposure to California at 44% and 25% of ’09 revenues, respectively, vs. the 20% group average.”

Given that the state’s existing sales dwarf new sales – 2009 saw an average of 42,500 closings per month – that allotment should be snapped up in about a month. Stampede, indeed.

Homebuyer Tax Credit Update

From the

Despite blizzards that shut federal offices for days, the Internal Revenue Service issued new guidance Feb. 12 on the two tax credit programs that are powering the country’s real estate markets — the $6,500 credit for repeat buyers and the $8,000 first-time buyer credit.

The new IRS policy clarified documentation that taxpayers need to submit to successfully obtain either credit. When Congress revised the credit programs in November, it ordered the IRS to tighten its rules and monitoring to curtail widespread frauds that had emerged earlier in 2009.

These included fictitious home purchases in which people claimed and received $8,000 checks from the government on transactions that had never occurred. .

To avoid such abuses in the revised credit program — which is scheduled to be available for qualified purchases closed through June 30 — Congress directed the IRS to spell out documentation standards in detail and to install monitoring systems to spot fraud upfront. Among the keys to the monitoring system is that all documentation accompanying credit claims comply with the IRS’ detailed rules.


Tricklin’ Down

Speaking of contests, we have a pair of Chargers playoff tickets riding on the amount of homes for sale on December 1st.

In December, 2008 the average amount of homes for sale was 15,116.

On August 11, 2009, the total amount of active listings was 11,457.

On September 22, 2009, the amount of actives was  8,149

Today’s inventory count is 7,955.

Here are the guesses:

CA renter is the front-runner currently, with three weeks to go!

The lower inventory counts are excruciating for the ready, willing, and able buyers. Any decent houses that list with an attractive price are still being scooped up quick.


The pending count has held up, but will we see a load of closings this month of those getting in before the previous tax-credit expired?

September 22: 11,011

November 18: 10,528


How about the REO counts, any flood happening yet?

Week New REO listings
Oct 1-7
Oct 8-14
Oct 15-21
Oct 22-28
Oct 29-4
Nov 5-11

No flooding sighted, but steady flow for now.

What would happen if buyers take the holidays off, come back after the Super Bowl all fired up about getting a tax credit, and there’s not much to buy? Hopefully we’ll be able to count on some of the 10,580 properties on the trustee-sale auction list to make it to market!

Housing Tax Credit Summary

For those looking for the latest on the housing tax credit, the WSJ has a good summary:

The highlights:

Q: If I buy a new home and live in it, do I also have to sell my old one in order to take advantage of the credit?

This is unclear. The law appears to allow repeat buyers to retain their old home, for which no tax credit was given, while claiming a credit for the new one. What is clear is that if you buy a new home using the credit, you must use it as your principal residence.

Q: What is the definition of “principal residence”?

If you own more than one home, your principal residence is usually the one where you spend most of your time. In determining residence the IRS may also consider where your family lives and your mailing address for bills and correspondence, among other factors.

Q: Can a principal residence be something besides a conventional house?

Yes. A principal residence may also be a condominium, co-op apartment, attached or semi-attached townhouse, or even—if it has eating, sleeping and toilet facilities—a boat, motor home or trailer. Manufactured homes qualify in some states.

Q: I need the credit refund to help make the down payment. What can I do?

There’s no rushing the IRS. But one option is to adjust your current withholding from your paychecks to reflect the fact that you will be taking the credit later. But be careful: If you don’t make the purchase, then you may owe interest and penalties. Consult a tax adviser.

Q: Is it possible to qualify for a credit if I am building a home on a lot I already own?

Yes, according to the National Association of Home Builders. The purchase date is usually considered to be the date of first occupancy, so you would need to move in before July 1, 2010.

Accidental Cheese

Who in Southern California will benefit from the existing-homeowner’s tax credit?  It seems more like window dressing than actual help – the only buyers who could keep or sell their existing home would be those with substantial equity.  Keepers need low payments to correspond with rents, and sellers with loads of equity wouldn’t let $6,500 make the decision for them, would they?

Those who’ll get the credit probably would have moved anyway.

From the LA Times:

If you have owned and lived in a home for at least five consecutive years of the last eight years, you could qualify for a $6,500 tax credit, if you buy a new home between now and April 30.

The “five-of-eight” requirement means that this credit could accommodate people who lost their homes in the last year or two to foreclosure or even sold a house and didn’t immediately replace it, said John. W. Roth, senior tax analyst with CCH Inc., a Riverwoods, Ill., publisher of tax information.

Would you have to sell your residence for it to qualify for the $6,500 credit, if you wanted to buy a new one? Not necessarily, Roth said. The home you purchase must become your principal residence, so you would have to move there. But nothing in the law says you cannot keep your existing residence as a second home or rental, he said.

If you do choose to sell your existing residence, you need to pay close attention to how much you earn on that sale, Stretch said. That’s because taxable profits from the sale of your residence will be added to your other earnings to determine whether your adjusted gross income exceeds the allowable thresholds.

This credit also phases out for singles earning more than $125,000 and married couples earning more than $225,000.

On the bright side, some profits from the sale of a personal residence don’t count. That’s because taxpayers are allowed to exclude up to $250,000 per person or $500,000 per couple in profits on the sale of their personal residence from tax, if they lived in that home for two of the last five years, Stretch said. Only profits exceeding those excluded amounts would be included in income, he noted.

Getting muddled? Let’s look at an example to clarify.

John and Sue Smith own a home that they bought for $100,000 in 1965. They’re now retired and want to scale back, selling that home, which is now worth $750,000, and buying a smaller home with the help of the new $6,500 credit.

Their net profit on this sale would be $650,000, but they can exclude $500,000 of that gain from tax, based on existing law. They will have to add the remaining $150,000 capital gain to their adjusted gross income to determine whether they can qualify for the new credit.

If all of their other income adds up to less than $75,000, they have no worries because the $150,000 and $75,000 add up to $225,000 — the beginning of the credit’s phase-out range for married couples. If they earn more, however, they begin to lose their ability to take the credit.

There are other arcane rules relating to profits earned on the sale of a home, so those with substantial profits may want to consult a tax professional before banking on the credit.

“It’s really confusing,” Roth allowed. “It’s as if they took the old law and threw it in a Mixmaster. Some things still apply; others don’t. The time frames are all new. This is going to keep a lot of tax accountants in business for a long time.” 

Housing Tax Credit to Pass?

Hat tip to Pigpen sent along this clip from abcnews, via zerohedge; go to -9:50 mark where the senators are discussing the housing tax credit.  If this is any indication, it’s looks like an extension of the credit is going to happen:

An excerpt from zerohedge:

There was a love fest on ABC’s This Week. The odd couple was Senators Schumer (D.NY) and Cornyn (R.TX).

When Schumer says, ”We have to extend the housing tax credit” Cornyn says, “Chuck and I agree”.

Cornyn went on to make a plug for Senator Isakson’s (R.GA.) bill. This would expand the $8,000 tax credit to $15,000. It would also make it available to all comers. The existing bill is only for first time buyers.

While Cornyn is talking, Chuck is shaking his head, Yes, yes, yes.

Read the comments at zerohedge:

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