WASHINGTON, D.C. – November 2, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced his support for a bill that would provide for an extension of emergency benefits to unemployed workers and expand the homebuyer tax credit. Brown is a cosponsor of the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009, which would extend unemployment insurance by 14 weeks (with an additional six weeks for workers in high unemployment states like Ohio) and expand the first-time homebuyer tax credit to include existing homeowners who have not moved for five years or more.
“This legislation is critical to getting our economy back on track,” Brown said. “Not only does the homebuyer tax credit make home ownership accessible to more Ohioans, it pumps money into our state’s economy. Unemployment insurance helps Ohioans who worked hard and played by the rules meet their household needs while stimulating the economy. This legislation will help create jobs, stabilize home prices, and rebuild communities.”
Originally introduced as the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009 (S.1699), this legislation would provide an additional 14 weeks of unemployment benefits and an additional six week for workers in hard-hit states like Ohio – where unemployment rates top 8.5 percent. Although Ohio’s current unemployment rate of 10.1 percent is down from September’s record high, more than 14,000 Ohioans will lose unemployment insurance at the end of the month. Brown recently released a county-by-county report detailing the number of Ohio workers who are projected to exhaust their benefits this month. An estimated 64,500 Ohioans will lose unemployment insurance this year if Congress does pass legislation to extend unemployment insurance.
This new bill would also extend the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit – set to expire on Nov. 30 – through April 30, 2010. Homebuyers who obtain binding contracts by April 30, 2010 would have 60 days to close. This extended credit is phased out for individuals with incomes above $125,000 and for joint filers with incomes above $225,000 and is available only for the purchase of a principal residence with a purchase price of $800,000 or less.
The first-time homebuyer tax credit was created in 2008 through passage of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and was extended to Nov. 30, 2009 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Since its enactment, the first time homebuyer tax credit has helped more than 48,000 Ohio families purchase their first homes. The current credit is fully refundable and limited to ten percent of the purchase price of the home, with a maximum possible credit of $8,000 – for qualified buyers who have never owned a home or have not owned one in the past three years. Eligibility is based on income – with the credit reduced or eliminated for a single filer with an income of $75,000 or a joint filer with an income of $150,000 or more. Nationally, more than 1.4 million taxpayers have utilized the tax credit so far. Ohio ranks ninth in the nation for number of homes purchased through the tax credit – with 48,771 households receiving tax credits valued collectively at $325,696,178, as of Aug. 22, 2009.
In addition to the $8,000 credit available to first-time homebuyers, The Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 would also create a new $6,500 tax credit for other homeowners buying a new home from December 1, 2009 to April 30, 2010. The $6,500 tax credit would also be available to homebuyers with incomes of up to $125,000 for a single return or $225,000 for a joint return and would not be available for homes costing more than $800,000. Homebuyers who already own a home are only eligible if the home they are leaving has been used as a principal residence for five years or more.
Brown was an early supporter of components of this legislation. He was an original cosponsor of Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009 (S.1699) and an early cosponsor of bipartisan legislation that would extend the first-time homebuyer tax credit (S. 1678).