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Ask Madison: Last Minute Tax Questions

Tax day is here! Have you filed your tax return yet? If not, you can always file an extension [1]. Don’t forget that the first 2009 estimated tax payment [2] is also due today.

Lots of first time home buyers are planning to file for the 2009 $8,000 First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit [3] on their 2008 tax returns. There are lots of questions about the tax credit, so let’s dive right in!


If we are purchasing a home as a married couple and one of us is a first time home buyer and the other one is not, do we qualify for the credit at all? – Will

According to IRS Form 5405 [4], it looks like for married couples, both of you must be first time home buyers to claim the credit.


Is there a way I can qualify for the $8,000 credit if I am preapproved for a loan before December 1st, but I don’t purchase a home until summer 2010? – Steve

Unfortunately, you need to purchase your home before November 30, 2009. A preapproval by that date won’t qualify you for tax credit.


Is this credit “up to” $8,000, depending on your income? What I’ve heard is that unless your tax liabilities are greater than $8,000, you won’t be able to claim the full credit amount. – Max

The “up to” part accounts for the 10% of purchase price. If you only bought a $50,000 home, you would get $5,000. The tax credit is refundable, so you could receive more money than your tax liability.


We sold our home ten years ago, bought a mobile home, which we own, but not the land. We pay rent on the lot and pay only personal property taxes on the mobile home, just like our autos. Do we qualify for the $8,000 credit? – Harvey and many others

I’ve done a lot of research on the mobile home issue for you. Unfortunately, it looks like mobile homes are still considered a primary residence. Therefore, if you owned one in the last 3 years, you will not be able to claim the tax credit.

See “Who Can Claim the Credit” section of Form 5405. It states:

You (and your spouse if married) did not own any other main home during the 3-year period ending on the date of
purchase…. Main home. Your main home is the one you live in most of the time. It can be a house, houseboat, housetrailer, cooperative apartment, condominium, or other type of residence.