IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman recently offered homebuyers advice that I don't remember hearing ever come out of a tax chief's mouth before.
Don't file your taxes too quickly if you plan on claiming a new first-time homebuyers credit, Shulman urged taxpayers recently. Check out your options and think about asking for a six-month filing deadline extension, to Oct. 15, if that works out better for you, he said. You do need to file that request by April 15, however.
Briefly, singles can claim a dollar-for-dollar tax reduction up to $4,000 - and married couples can claim up to $8,000 - buying a home this year if they haven't owned one in the last three years.
Falling home prices and a crocus-like bloom in late winter home sales may make this an even better deal for first-time buyers. H&R Block offers a rundown of the key points to consider about the tax credit, as well as similar, but less attractive credit for purchases in 2008.
But weigh your filing choices too, Shulman suggests. Waiting until Oct 15 to file, if you buy a home before then, may get your tax credit into your hands faster than waiting until you file your return for 2009 a year from now. Or, if you've already filed, filing an amended return after you buy could do the same things. But you also can wait a year and claim the money on your return for 2009 if you think the tax reduction might do more good then.