Hurricane Alex and disaster tax tips
Midyear tax tip #8: Get charitable

Homebuyer tax credit extended;
closing date deadline is now Sept. 30

If you went to bed last night freaking out that you wouldn't be able to claim the first-time homebuyer credit, here's some welcome wake-up news.

It's official. You now have three more months to finalize your home purchase.

With the tax credit's settlement deadline ticking down, the Senate late Wednesday approved by unanimous consent a measure identical to the one passed Tuesday by the House.

That means the extended-yet-again homebuyer tax credit bill is on its way to Obama so his signature can make it law.

Remember, this latest piece of legislation is only for folks who had a contract in place by April 30, but couldn't finalize the purchase by the previous June 30 due date.

Now first-time buyers, who can claim a credit of up to $8,000, as well as eligible repeat buyers, whose credit maximum is $6,500, have until Sept. 30 to close on their residences.

The breakthrough came when Senate Democrats decided to pull the homebuyer tax provision out of the bill that also would have authorized additional unemployment benefits for around 1.7 million folks looking for work. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was one vote shy of the 60 needed to move the combination bill forward.

As has been the case for weeks, most of the Senate Republicans, along with Democratic holdout Ben Nelson of Nebraska, objected to the cost of the continued unemployment benefits. Maine's GOP Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe were the only members of their party to vote for extending jobless assistance.

But to no one's surprise, the full Senate had no qualms when it came to the housing industry bill.

Who's affected: As the debate wore on, the The National Association of Realtors broke down the numbers of buyers who might miss out on the credit by state:

Alabama, 2,590 Kentucky, 2,540 North Dakota, 460
Alaska, 830 Louisiana,1,800 Ohio, 8,510
Arizona, 5,440 Maine, 840 Oklahoma, 2,760
Arkansas, 2,090 Maryland, 2,630 Oregon, 2,090
California, 17,700 Massachusetts, 3,930 Pennsylvania, 5,830
Colorado, 3,390 Michigan, 6,470 Rhode Island, 500
Connecticut, 1,770 Minnesota, 3,760 South Carolina, 2,460
Delaware, 400 Mississippi, 1,530 South Dakota, 500
D.C., 300 Missouri, 3,600 Tennessee, 3,910
Florida, 14,830 Montana, 760 Texas, 15,340
Georgia, 6,270 Nebraska, 1,110 Utah, 1,130
Hawaii, 710 Nevada, 3,800 Vermont, 400
Idaho, 1,270 New Hampshire, 690 Virginia, 3,890
Illinois, 7,030 New Jersey, 4,300 Washington, 3,190
Indiana, 3,560 New Mexico, 1,160 West Virginia, 940
Iowa, 2, 030 New York, 9,190 Wisconsin, 2,690
Kansas, 1,840 North Carolina, 4,890 Wyoming, 390

In most instances, says real estate industry insiders, the problem has been because lenders and appraisers, in the last-minute tax credit rush, weren't able to get everyone's paperwork in order in time. They promise the three months will allow them to get through the backlog.

I'll believe it when Oct. 1 arrives without yet another extension.

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