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Both Houses OK Tax Credit Extension, Expansion

The House passed legislation yesterday to extend the $8,000 home buyer tax credit, one day after it passed the Senate. The tax credit will be extended to May 1, 2010, for first-time buyers and will add a $6,500 tax credit for repeat buyers if they've lived in their home for five of the past eight years. Home prices are capped at $800,000.

The legislation in both houses was included in a bill to extend unemployment benefits and is expected to be signed by President Obama shortly.

"REALTORS appreciate the swift action by Congress to extend the home buyer tax credit and expand it to some current homeowners," says NAR President Charles McMillan. "As the leading advocate of housing and real estate issues, we urge President Obama to sign this legislation into law quickly to keep the momentum going in the fragile recovery of the nation's housing market."

Under the bill, income limits are expanded to $125,000 for individuals and $225,000 for joint filers. Individuals with incomes up to $145,000 and joint filers with incomes up to $245,000 qualify for reduced credits.

Households who have binding contracts in place by April 30 will be allowed an additional 60 days to complete their transaction. The deadline for members of the military serving out the U.S. for at least 90 days between Jan. 1, 2009, and May 1, 2010, has been extended one year.

Taxpayers can claim the credit on their federal income tax returns. If the credit exceeds their tax bill, the government will issue a check. Taxpayers will be able to claim the credit on their 2009 income tax return for purchases made in 2010.

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