Jun 16, 2010 3:45 PM by Melissa Canone
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate on Wednesday approved a plan to
give home buyers an extra three months to finish qualifying for
federal tax incentives that boosted home sales this spring.
The move by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would give buyers
until Sept. 30 to complete their purchases and qualify for tax
credits of up to $8,000. Under the current terms, buyers had until
April 30 to get a signed sales contract and until June 30 to
complete the sale.
The proposal, approved by a 60-37 vote, would only allow people
who already have signed contracts to finish at the later date.
About 180,000 homebuyers who already signed purchase agreements
would otherwise miss the deadline.
Reid, D-Nev., added the proposal to a bill extending jobless
benefits through the end of November. Nevada has the nation's
highest foreclosure rate, and Reid is facing a tough re-election
The Realtors group has been pushing hard in Congress for the
extension. Mortgage lenders, the trade group says, have been
swamped with borrowers trying to get approved by the end of the
month. Many potential borrowers are unlikely to make the deadline.
"If Congress fails to act promptly, then prospective homebuyers
might not get the benefit of the homebuyer tax credit, even though
they have completed contracts," the Realtors said in a letter to
First-time buyers were eligible for a tax credit of up to
$8,000. Current owners who bought and moved into another home could
qualify for a credit of up to $6,500.
The $140 million cost of the measure would be financed by
denying businesses the ability to deduct from their taxes punitive
damages paid when losing lawsuits or judgments.