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Details Behind the 'Homebuyer Tax Credit'

By Candice Choi
NEW YORK (AP) — How does the first-time homebuyer tax credit work if you're purchasing a home with an unmarried partner?

Q: My boyfriend and I are trying to buy a house together, but we're not planning on getting married. Can we each take a first-time home buyer tax credit?

— Jackie Eurice, Newport News, Va.

Joint buyers can split the credit pretty much however you want, but the total can't exceed $8,000 for any single purchase.

If one of you is not a first-time homebuyer or earns too much to be eligible, the credit could be allocated entirely to the other party. This might be the case if a parent and child are buying a house together and the parent already owns a home, according to Robert Dietz, a spokesman for the National Association of Home Builders.

The rules are tighter for married buyers. The credit must be split evenly if a married couple files separate income tax returns.

Don't forget the eligibility rules for the credit. It's for people who bought or buy homes between Jan. 1 through the end of November this year. It applies to anyone who didn't own their principal home in the three years leading up to the home purchase. And to get the full credit, individuals can't earn more than $75,000 while married couples can't earn more than $150,000.

The credit is for 10 percent of the home price, up to $8,000.

You also need to own the home for three years after you buy it. If you sell it before then, you have to repay the money.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.  All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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