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Almost 65,000 Floridians claim tax credit

A report by the Government Accountability Office finds that Florida ranked third in the number of first-time buyers who qualified for one of the three IRS tax credits, with 64,879 buyers making the claim. The study includes all three credits authorized by Congress.

In dollars and cents, that means Florida residents received $455,565,365 offered under the Housing, Recovery and Assistance acts.

Still, the amount pales compared to No. 1 ranked California that had almost 117,000 claims and over $814 million returned to residents. Texas, which ranked No. 2, saw almost 100,000 claims and over $680 million in federal money. Nationwide, Americans collected about $23.5 billion and submitted 3.32 million claims, which is about $1.5 billion higher than original estimates.

Congress had passed three different versions of the credit to help stimulate the housing market.

• The Housing Act version provided a refundable tax credit, equal to 10 percent of the purchase price of a home, up to a maximum of $7,500. Taxpayers must repay the credit.

• The Recovery Act version provided a refundable tax credit equal to 10 percent of the purchase price up to a maximum of $8,000 with a waiver of the repayment provision.

• The Assistance Act version extended the timeframe in which homebuyers could claim the credit to April 30, 2010, and included several modifications, such as allowing certain long-term homeowners purchasing new homes to claim a tax credit up to $6,500.

According to the National Association of Realtors, the tax credit had a strong impact on home sales, and the last version’s expiration led to a significant drop in July home sale numbers.