RISMEDIA, January 28, 2010—The Home Buyer Tax Credit is a great program providing a tremendous stimulus for the real estate industry, but the impact of the tax credit is going to be undermined by the restrictive way that the IRS is interpreting the credit for married couples, according to Joseph Rand, one of the founders of Homebuyertaxcredit.com.
In the guidelines of the Home Buyer Tax Credit, the IRS has inadvertently created a “marriage penalty” by requiring that both spouses must have the same exact ownership history in order to claim the credit, which treats married couples differently from unmarried couples. Joseph Rand and the co-founders of Homebuyertaxcredit.com, Greg Rand and Matt Rand, have launched a campaign urging members of Congress to amend the legislation and eliminate this penalty.
“The Home Buyer Tax Credit is designed to incentivize home purchases this year, and it should have a significant impact,” said Joseph Rand. “But the impact is going to be undermined because thousands of married couples will not be eligible due to a very restrictive reading of the legislation by the IRS. The IRS will only allow married couples to claim the credit if both spouses qualify for the same type of credit in their own right, even if the couple would get a tax credit if they were unmarried. Married couples are tested together, and must both be eligible. This is not the case for unmarried couples, who are tested individually such that if one does not qualify, the other can still get a credit.”
Essentially, the only types of married couples who would be eligible to claim the credit would be married couples in which both spouses are qualifying first-time home buyers, or married couples in which both spouses have owned and lived in the same home for at least five consecutive years out of the last eight.
Greg Rand said that this issue was likely an oversight, and the IRS probably did not intend to exact a marriage penalty that undermines such an important economic recovery program. “Clearly, Congress did not intend to render millions of American married couples ineligible for any type of tax credit, even in cases where both spouses would qualify on their own and in cases where unmarried couples are eligible to claim tax credits,” said Greg Rand. “Marriage is the cornerstone of our society.”
Matt Rand suggested that Congress needs to take immediate action steps to correct this unintentional penalty. “To fix this, either Congress needs to revise the legislation or the IRS has to revise its treatment of married couples to allow for eligibility for a tax credit where both spouses would qualify for a tax credit in their own right if they were single or unmarried partners buying together,” said Matt Rand. “If the IRS is not able to revise its interpretation of the law, Congress should explicitly amend the law to fix the marriage penalty by allowing for equitable treatment of married and unmarried couples.”
The Rands are hoping to draw enough attention to the cause so that Congress will be prompted to act quickly. In addition to the campaign on Homebuyertaxcredit.com, a Facebook cause has also been created to bring awareness to the public and urge them to take action. The Rands encourage any married couples who are being affected by the Home Buyer Tax Credit’s restrictive marriage guidelines to go to www.homebuyertaxcredit.com and submit their story.
For more information, visit www.Homebuyertaxcredit.com.