If Congress enacts legislation currently in front of the House Ways and Means Committee, the current popular First Time Home Buyer Tax Credit will be extended beyond its current expiration date and greatly expanded.

HR 2801, Home Ownership Moves the Economy (HOME) Act of 2009, introduced by Howard Coble (R-NC) would continue the availability of the credit into 2010 and allow all home buyers to take advantage of the program.  The credit is due to expire on December 1, 2009.

The current legislation grants a one-time credit of 10 percent of the home’s purchase price up to a maximum of $8000 to first time homebuyers or those buyers who have not owned a house in the last three years.  Homebuyers can chose to claim the credit either retroactively on their 2008 return or on their 2009 obligation.  If the buyer does not owe enough taxes to cover the credit the balance will be refunded to them in cash.

The full tax credit is available to U.S. citizens with incomes under $75,000 or $150,000 for couples filing jointly and a reduced credit applies to buyers with incomes up to $95,000 and $170,000. 

Unlike an earlier housing stimulus program, the credit does not have to be repaid unless the homeowner sells the house in less than three years.

Congressman Coble’s legislation would remove both the income restriction and the requirement that the home be a first-time purchase.

There have been calls from a number of quarters, to extend the program to buyers who close on a house beyond the current December 1 deadline.  The National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Homebuilders among other credit the program at least in part with the recent rebound in housing sales.

The homebuilders group has been urging its members to lobby for just such a program as that proposed by the Home Act claiming that were the tax credit to be extended one year and made available to all home buyers it would increase home sales by 383,000 units and create nearly 350,000 jobs.