Tax Update for 2009
Energy-efficient existing homes. The new law extends the tax credit for improvements to energy-efficient existing homes through 2010. For 2009 and 2010, the amount of the tax credit is increased from 10% to 30% of the amount paid or incurred by the taxpayer for qualified energy efficiency improvements during the tax year. An aggregate $1,500 cap applies to all property qualifying for the credit.
Residential energy property. The new law removes the dollar limitations on certain energy credits, e.g, for qualified small wind energy property ($4,000 cap); for qualified solar water heating property ($2,000 cap); and qualified geothermal heat pumps ($2,000).
Vehicles. The new law provides a tax credit for purchases of plug-in electric drive vehicles ranging from $2,500 to $7,500 depending on battery capacity. The new law also restores and updates the electric vehicle credit for plug-in electric vehicles that would not otherwise qualify for the larger plug-in electric drive vehicle credit and provides a tax credit for plug-in electric drive conversion kits.
For more information on the energy credit please visit the following website. The website provides a chart which breaks out the amount of credit that can be claimed on specific purchases.
First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit The Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 has extended the tax credit of up to $8,000 for qualified first-time home buyers purchasing a principal residence. The tax credit now applies to sales occurring on or after January 1, 2009 and on or before April 30, 2010. However, in cases where a binding sales contract is signed by April 30, 2010, a home purchase completed by June 30, 2010 will qualify. For sales occurring after November 6, 2009, the Act establishes income limits of $125,000 for single taxpayers and $225,000 for married couples filing joint returns. The income limits for sales occurring on or after January 1, 2009 and on or before November 6, 2009, are $75,000 for single taxpayers and $150,000 for married taxpayers filing joint returns.
Move-Up/Repeat Home Buyer Tax Credit The Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 has established a tax credit of up to $6,500 for qualified move-up/repeat home buyers (existing homeowners) purchasing a principal residence after November 6, 2009 and on or before April 30, 2010 (or purchased by June 30, 2010 with a binding sales contract signed by April 30, 2010).
The law defines a tax credit qualified move-up home buyer ("long-time resident") as a homeowner who has owned and resided in a home for at least five consecutive years of the eight years prior to the purchase date. For married taxpayers, the law tests the homeownership history of both the home buyer and his/her spouse. Repeat home buyers do not have to purchase a home that is more expensive than their previous home to qualify for the tax credit. The tax credit is equal to 10 percent of the home's purchase price up to a maximum of $6,500. Purchases of homes priced above $800,000 are not eligible for the tax credit.
The income limit for single taxpayers is $125,000; the limit is $225,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return. The tax credit amount is reduced for buyers with a modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) above those limits. The phaseout range for the tax credit program is equal to $20,000. That is, the tax credit amount is reduced to zero for taxpayers with MAGI of more than $145,000 (single) or $245,000 (married) and is reduced proportionally for taxpayers with MAGIs between these amounts.
Below is a website that provides a list of frequently asked questions about the Home Buyer Tax Credits.
Sales Tax Deduction for New Vehicles Buyers of new vehicles can deduct the sales tax paid on the purchase, even if they don't claim sales taxes as itemized deductions. They can add the tax they pay to their standard deduction. This break applies to new cars, motor homes, light trucks and motorcycles purchased after February 16, 2009 and before January 1, 2010. Sales tax paid on the first $49,500 of cost qualifies. The benefit begins phasing out for married couples with AGI over $250,000 and singles with Adjusted Gross Income over $125,000. It is completely gone for single filers with Adjusted Gross Income of $135,000 or more, or joint filers with AGI of at least $260,000.
Tax Credit for College Tuition For 2009 and 2010, the Hope credit is replaced by a new credit of up to $2,500 per student a year for four years of college, not just the first two years. It now also covers the cost of books, and begins to phase out at $80,000 of Adjusted Gross Income for single filers and $160,000 for joint filers. If the credit is more than your income tax liability, 40 percent of it is refundable. Also, the full credit is allowed against the Alternative Minimum Tax.
Partial Exclusion for Unemployment Benefits For 2009, the first $2,400 of unemployment benefits you receive is tax-free.
Roth IRA Conversions Starting in 2010, individuals with more than $100,000 of modified Adjusted Gross Income are free to switch a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. For conversions in 2010, taxpayers can spread the tax due over two years. Half the tax will be due in 2011, and the remaining half will be payable in 2012. Removing the limit on conversions effectively eliminates the income limit on contributions to Roth IRAs. A taxpayer with income too high to use a Roth will be able to contribute to a traditional IRA (which does not have income limits for contributions) and immediately convert to a Roth.
If you have any questions on these topics or any other, please call the office to discuss further.