The New York Times is reporting Congress will extend the first time homebuyer's tax credit:
The Senate and House are poised to agree on a compromise measure to extend unemployment benefits that also would expand a popular $8,000 tax credit for homebuyers, despite a recent government report on extensive mistakes and suspected fraud in the program.
Extensive mistakes? Suspected fraud? It's bad enough this is helping balloon the housing market bust. Congress is also changing the terms to be more broad:
The homebuyers’ credit — enacted last year, expanded this year and scheduled to expire Nov. 30 — would be extended to cover homes under contract by April 30. Also, it no longer would be limited to first-time buyers; people who have owned a home for at least five years could get a $6,500 credit on a new residence. Income limits for eligibility would be raised, making many more people qualify.
Extending and expanding the credit would cost an estimated $11 billion, on top of the $10 billion spent so far. It would be a big victory for the housing and real estate lobby and for the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, who faces a tough re-election race next year in the state with the most claims for the credit per capita.
Earlier were reports of fraud:
Thousands of individuals claiming the first-time home buyer's $8,000 tax credit may have been trying to scam the system, including purported 4-year-olds and illegal immigrants, according to a watchdog report released Thursday.
Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George told a House panel that more than 19,000 people filed 2008 tax returns claiming the credit for homes they had not yet purchased. George said his office had identified another $500 million in claims, by some 74,000 taxpayers, where there were indications of prior home ownership.
He told a House Ways and Means oversight subcommittee that they also found 580 taxpayers under the age of 18 who claimed $4 million in first-time home buyer credit. One was 4 years old.