Congress giving unemployed and homebuyers early holiday gift

November 5, 2009

(ChattahBox) — The Senate voted 98-0 to extend unemployment benefits for the jobless by up to 20 weeks. The $24 billion bill would provide every American running out of unemployment insurance benefits this year with an additional 14 weeks. Those out-of-work in Michigan, Ohio, and other states with jobless rates of 8.5 percent or higher would get six weeks on top of that.

As part of the unemployment package, the Senate also voted to extend an $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit through April 30, and provide a $6,500 tax credit for homebuyers, as long as they had been in their previous home for at least five years. To qualify, buyers in both groups have to sign a purchase agreement by April 30, 2010, and close by June 30.

The tax credits would be limited to homebuyers who make $125,000 or less as an individual or $225,000 or less as a couple. The cost of the home being purchased may not exceed $800,000.

Extending and expanding the tax credit for homebuyers is projected to cost the government about $10.8 billion in lost taxes.

The House, which passed a slightly different version, is expected to approve the bill perhaps as early as today and send it to President Barack Obama for his signature.

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