Whitfield Works to Make Homeownership a Reality for Service Members

WASHINGTON, DC – October 8, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Representative Ed Whitfield (KY-01) supported legislation today which will help members of the U.S. military purchase a home and ensure soldiers deployed abroad are not unfairly penalized under the law.

“Homeownership has long been a cornerstone of the American dream,” Whitfield said. “The brave men and women who serve our nation abroad should be given every opportunity to make this dream a reality. The legislation passed today will ensure military members are able to take advantage of the first-time homebuyer tax credit upon returning from their service abroad.”

The House passed, and Whitfield supported, H.R. 3590, the Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act. The bill would make important modifications to the first-time homebuyer’s credit for members of the Armed Forces.

H.R. 3590 would extend the first-time homebuyer credit time limit by one year for military members serving abroad in 2009. Currently, first-time homebuyers are allowed to claim a tax credit of up to $8,000 for the purchase of a home before December 1, 2009. This extension will give military men and women serving outside the U.S. an additional year to take advantage of this important tax credit.

Furthermore, the first-time homebuyer tax credit must be paid back to the government if the house is sold or ceases to be used within three years of purchase. The Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act clarifies that this credit does not have to be paid back to the government if the house is sold or not used for an extended period by a military member serving outside the U.S at the time.

In addition, the legislation passed today would restore the tax-exempt status of payments received under the Homeowner’s Assistance Program (HAP). HAP assists military personnel selling a home that has declined in value as a result of a base closure or realignment. These payments made to military personnel under HAP are tax exempt. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 expanded the HAP program, but did not include a corresponding expansion of the tax exemption. The bill passed today would extend this tax exemption for HAP benefits.

The legislation now awaits consideration in the Senate.

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