Omaha, NE – November 4, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — Nebraska’s Senator Ben Nelson today voted to provide additional benefits to thousands of unemployed Nebraskans, and to extend the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit that already has helped more than 10,000 Nebraskans buy homes and created hundreds of jobs in new home construction in Nebraska.
“Although Nebraska’s unemployment rate is lower than many states, more than 13,000 Nebraskans are receiving emergency unemployment benefits now, and many could be helped by the temporary extension we approved today,” said Nelson. “These benefits are a critical lifeline for those pushed out of work by the recession.
“In addition, extending the homebuyer tax credit makes good sense. It will help more Nebraskans buy homes, give good-paying jobs to Nebraskans in new homebuilding and provide an additional economic stimulus for our state at a time we need it,” said Nelson.
Nelson’s comments came after he voted for the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009, which passed the Senate 98-0. The bill adds an additional 14 weeks of emergency unemployment compensation benefits in all states. An additional 6 weeks of unemployment benefits would be triggered in states with an unemployment rate over 8.5%. Current law provides emergency unemployment compensation to all states for 20 weeks, with an additional 13 weeks of benefits triggered in states with unemployment over 6%.
Further, the bill extends and expands the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit originally included in the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and enhanced by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The credit, set to expire at the end of this month, will be extended for seven months. The bill also creates a new smaller tax credit for current homeowners who have lived in their residence five years or more.
“This credit has been put to good use in Nebraska. We rank 7th in per capita tax benefit with $79.9 million in total dollars claimed,” said Nelson. “More than 10,000 Nebraskans have used the credit to buy homes, and Realtors and Homebuilders across the state have told me the credit is creating jobs and driving economic activity, while improving our housing market.”
The bill extends the current $8,000 first-time credit through June 30, 2010, but requires buyers to have a binding contract in place by April 30. The new bill will phase out benefits for individuals making $125,000 per year and couples making $225,000, an increase from the current levels of $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples. Additionally, existing homeowners will now be eligible for a new $6,500 credit if they have lived in their home for the last 5 years or more, a move aimed at helping homebuyers looking to move-up in the market.
The bill also includes several anti-fraud provisions to address problems in the current program identified in a recent Inspector General report about the credit’s vulnerability to fraud. The cost of the bill is in part offset by delaying certain planned changes to international tax laws and increased enforcement of penalties for partnerships and corporations that fail to file proper tax returns. The bill does not add to the deficit.