You've probably heard that the first-time homebuyer tax credit might be extended. More precisely, as my Bankrate colleague Holden Lewis blogged, it's the closing date that might be pushed to Sept. 30.
Not that I want to get into good blogger, bad blogger with Holden, mainly because I deal with taxes, which automatically tends to push me into the "bad" side of things. But since this is part of a major piece of pending tax legislation, I do feel a responsibility to bring you up to date on the proposal.
The news is not good. See, I told you; I'm the bad-news blogger.
The possible change (yet again!) to the first-time homebuyer credit was a provision added to the Senate version of what's known as the tax extenders bill. It's official name is H.R. 4312, with the catchy title of the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010.
This bill contains around 70 tax breaks for individuals and businesses that expired at the end of 2009. Among them are the itemized deduction for state and local sales taxes, the additional standard deduction for state and local real property taxes and the above-the-line deductions for qualified tuition and related expenses and educators' out-of-pocket expenditures.
These tax breaks are called extenders because they officially are temporary, but usually are renewed (extended) each year. Capitol Hill has been trying to renew this latest batch since December 2009.
The big problem is how to pay for it. That's an honest consideration. Congress should be mindful of of what its actions will cost us or future taxpayers.
But the costs of these tax breaks to the federal treasury also have become a game of political football, more this year than usual, as deficit hawks have been making primary election gains. Folks in Washington who want to keep their jobs are worried about how the extenders' price tag might play out when folks go to the polls in November.
So the tweaking of the extenders bill has continued. The House passed a version in May, but the Senate is having difficulty approving a bill, thanks in large part to the procedural ability of opponents to stop consideration of measure unless 60 or more Senators vote to do so.
Senate tax writers last night came up with a third version of the extenders and yes, it includes more time to qualify for the first-time homebuyer credit. They hope the changes will get them to the magic 60-vote number.
But don't hold your breath.
And if you signed a home purchase contract by April 30, you'd best try to close in the next few days just to make sure you can claim that tax credit on your 2010 tax return.