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Friday, March 20, 2009

Federal Budget Initiatives

First-Time Home Buyers' Tax Credit (HBTC)

1. What is the Home Buyers' Tax Credit (HBTC)?

For 2009 and subsequent years, the budget proposes to introduce a new non-refundable tax credit, based on an amount of $5,000, for certain home buyers that acquire a qualifying home after January 27, 2009 (i.e., closing after this date).

2. How is the new HBTC calculated?

The HBTC is calculated by multiplying the lowest personal income tax rate for the year (15% in 2009) by $5,000. For 2009, the credit will be $750.

3. Who is eligible for the HBTC?

An individual will qualify for the HBTC if:

  • they acquire a qualifying home; and
  • neither the individual nor the individual’s spouse or common-law partner owned and lived in another home in the year of purchase or any of the four preceding years.

If you are a person with a disability or are buying a house for a related person with a disability, you do not have to be a first time home buyer. However, the home must be acquired to enable the person with a disability to live in a more accessible dwelling or in an environment better suited to the personal needs and care of that person.

4. What is a qualifying home?

A qualifying home is a housing unit located in Canada. This includes existing homes and those being constructed. Single-family homes, semi-detached homes, townhouses, mobile homes, condominium units, and apartments in duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, or apartment buildings, all qualify. A share in a co-operative housing corporation that entitles you to possess and gives you an equity interest in a housing unit located in Canada also qualifies. However, a share that only provides you with a right to tenancy in the housing unit does not qualify.

As well, you or the related person with a disability must intend to occupy the home as a principal place of residence no later than one year after buying it.

5. If I buy a house, can my spouse or common-law partner claim the HBTC?

Either one of you can claim the credit or you can share the credit. However, the total of both your claims cannot exceed $750.

Home Renovation Tax Credit

1. What is the Home Renovation Tax Credit (HRTC)?

The proposed HRTC is a non-refundable tax credit for work performed or goods acquired in respect of an eligible dwelling.

2. What is meant by eligible dwelling?

An eligible dwelling is a housing unit that is eligible to be an individual's principal residence or that of one or more of their family members, at any time between January 27, 2009 and February 1, 2010. In general, a housing unit is considered eligible to be an individual's principal residence where it is owned by the individual and ordinarily inhabited by the individual, the individual's spouse or common-law partner, or their children. This means that any dwelling that you own and use personally could qualify, including your home or your cottage.

3. What is the eligibility period?

The credit will be based on eligible expenditures for work performed or goods acquired after January 27, 2009, and before February 1, 2010. Expenditures incurred pursuant to an agreement that was entered into before January 28, 2009, will not be eligible for the credit.

4. Who will be eligible for the credit?

Eligibility for the HRTC will be family based. A family will generally be considered to consist of an individual or an individual and his or her spouse or common-law partner, including children who will be under 18 years of age, at the end of 2009. A family will be allowed a single credit that may be shared within the family.

If two or more families share the ownership of an eligible dwelling, each family will be eligible for their own separate credit (i.e. each up to $1,350) that will be calculated on their respective eligible expenditures.

5. How will the credit be calculated?

The credit will only be available for the 2009 tax year and applies to eligible expenditures of more than $1,000, but not more than $10,000, resulting in a maximum credit of $1,350 ($9,000 x 15%).

6. What are eligible expenditures?

To be eligible, expenditures incurred in relation to a renovation or alteration to an eligible dwelling (or the land that forms part of the eligible dwelling) must be of an enduring nature and integral to the dwelling, and includes the cost of labour and professional services, building materials, fixtures, rentals, and permits.

Eligible expenditures must be supported by acceptable documentation.

Home Buyers' Plan

1. What is the Home Buyers' Plan?

The Home Buyers' Plan (HBP) is a program that allows you to withdraw funds from your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) to buy or build a qualifying home for yourself or for a related person with a disability.

2. What is the current maximum amount that can be withdrawn under the HBP?

Currently, the maximum amount that an individual can withdraw in a calendar year from an RRSP to purchase or build a qualifying home without having to pay tax on the withdrawal is $20,000.

3. What is the new maximum amount announced in the 2009 Budget?

For 2009 and subsequent years, for withdrawals made after January 27, 2009, the budget proposes to increase the maximum amount to $25,000.

4. If I withdrew up to $20,000 from my RRSP after December 31, 2008, and before January 28, 2009, can I withdraw additional funds from my RRSP after January 27, 2009?

Yes. You can withdraw additional funds after January 27, 2009, as long as the total of all your withdrawals in 2009 does not exceed the new maximum amount of $25,000. However, under existing requirements neither you nor your spouse or common-law partner can own the qualifying home for more than 30 days before making the final withdrawal in 2009.

5. Is the HBP connected to the new Home Buyers Tax Credit (HBTC)?

No. Although some of the eligibility conditions for the HBP and the HBTC are similar, they are not connected. Participation in the HBP does not affect an individual's eligibility for the HBTC.