Real Estate and Construction

First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit: A Complete Guide

Roshni Khatri

23rd Sep'22
First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit: A Complete Guide | OpenGrowth

Having your own home is the dream of every individual. But it can be expensive as we have to make the financial arrangements from the down payment to insurance premiums. However, with the help of a home buyer's tax credit, you can attain your dream house at an affordable cost.


But what is the scheme, how can you approach it, and what are the eligibility criteria and litigations are the primary concerns that may arise in your mind. Well, you will find the answers to all these queries as we discuss the homebuyer tax credit procedure in this guide. So here we go!


What is Homebuyer Tax Credit?

Homebuyer's tax credits are the government programs that help you purchase your first-time home. They lower tax obligations and costs associated with home purchases. These tax credits are crucial because they make homeownership more accessible and encourage it.


Moreover, the tax credits are a way for the government to offer financial incentives to taxpayers. For instance, if you owned $20000 in federal taxes but received a $2000 tax credit, it reduces your tax bills to $18000. 


As a result, tax credits are a better incentive than deductions, which let you reduce your taxable income. Deductions lessen the amount of taxes you owe, but not as much as a credit for the same amount. You must invest in real estate as it can fetch better returns in the long run.


Therefore, first-time homebuyer tax credits are federal income tax deductions offered by the government to persons who make their first real estate purchase.


First time homebuyer tax credit


Who is Eligible to Become a First-time Homebuyer?

To be eligible for the first-time homebuyer tax credit, you must fulfill several requirements. Contrary to its name, the credit is not limited to those who have never bought a property. You are regarded as a first-time purchaser if you haven't owned a home or served as a cosigner on a mortgage at any point in the previous three years. 


You must adhere to the following requirements to qualify as a first-time home buyer:

  • You have not been a cosigner on a mortgage or an owner of a home in the past three years. 

  • You should be a former homeowner who has ever shared a house with a spouse. 

  • You have merely owned a house that was firmly anchored to a foundation

  • You are a single parent who only shared a home with a married ex-spouse.

  • You have only owned a house that could not be brought into compliance with local or state construction codes for a price less than the cost of constructing a permanent structure.


Where to find First-time Homebuyer Credits?

Despite the federal first-time homebuyer credit's discontinuation, equivalent local programs are probably still available to homebuyers. Some states may provide grants and loans with no interest to help with home-buying expenses like a down payment. 


Mortgage credit certificates (MCCs), which turn some of the mortgage interest you pay into a federal tax credit, are a common tax advantage first-time homebuyer programs offer. The tax credit is usually nonrefundable and has a ceiling of $2,000 per year. 


Selecting your state from the list of first-time home buyer programs allows you to locate additional federal tax credits and support that may help you purchase your first home.


But you have to be cautious while doing this as some programs have a maximum on income and property value to benefit lower-income buyers. Whereas others require several hours of home buyer counseling classes to qualify. 


Also, confirm if you'll be expected to pay back any financial aid or if it's being given to you as a gift. 


First Time Home Buyer Act 

The first-time home buyer act was introduced by several democratic members of congress in April 2021. This bill would bring back the tax credit, which was first implemented in 2008. 


In the new bill, eligible homebuyers can receive a tax credit of up to ten percent of their home's purchase price with a maximum limit of $15000. The ultimate goal of the new scheme of the homeowner tax credit is to assist lower and middle-income Americans. 


With this, it also aims to build generational wealth in communities of color. Aside from that, as of May 2022, the bill has not been passed into law. 


Types of Assistance for First-time Homebuyers

Numerous federal aid programs exist intending to lower the barrier to homeownership. While some are tailored specifically for first-time homebuyers, others have various eligibility restrictions. Here some popular assistance programs are described:


1. Down Payment Assistance

Several state and local governments provide the DPA. Usually, lenders provide grants or second mortgages as down payment help. So it is advisable, before signing, to make sure you completely comprehend the assistance program's terms.

First time homebuyer tax credit


2. FHA 203 (b) loan

A home mortgage loan program known as an FHA loan is available to first-time homebuyers, buyers with below-average credit, and homeowners who wish to refinance their houses to finance upgrades.


3. Home Mortgage Interest Deduction

Mortgage interest credits assist first-time homebuyers in paying less interest on their mortgage loans. 

Homeowners must get a Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) from a licensed lender to qualify for the tax credit, which is only good for up to $2,000 in deductions. 


4. Property Tax Deduction

Taxpayers may deduct the money they have paid to state and local governments for income or property taxes under the state and local tax deduction, or SALT. If you itemize on Schedule A, you may deduct up to $10,000 in state and local taxes from your federal taxable income.


5. Renewable Tax credits

If you've made energy-efficient home upgrades, you could save thousands of dollars on taxes. The resident energy-efficient property credits are available to homeowners who install:

  • Geothermal heat pumps

  • Small wind turbines

  • Fuel Cells

  • Energy efficient heating and air conditioning systems

  • Solar panels and water heaters


First time homebuyer tax credit


Final Words

If the First-Time Homebuyer Act of 2021 becomes law, many Americans with low and middle incomes will be eligible for a tax credit for purchasing a home. Additionally, unless you sell the house within the first four years of ownership, the tax credit would not need to be paid back. 


First-time homeowners should look into already accessible programs like FHA loans, MCCs, and IRA withdrawals in the interim to help lessen the cost of acquiring real estate. 


If you recently bought a house, make sure you know the home-related expenses that can be written off because doing so may assist in reducing your taxable income. While buying a house, you must follow the trends of smart homes as they can provide tremendous benefits and generate higher revenues.


We at OpenGrowth, are committed to keeping you updated with the best content on the latest trendy topics from any major field. Also, both your feedback and suggestions are valuable to us. So, do share them in the comment section below. 

A keen observer, who loves to spend time with nature. A fun loving person, enjoys to explore the new aspects of life. Passionate about reading and learning new things. Roshni is dedicated towards her work and has worked in different professions.


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