The U.S. Congress has passed and President Obama is expected to sign a bill extending unemployment compensation payments by up to 20 weeks. The bill also extends and expands the first-time homebuyer tax credit that would have expired at the end of November.
Under the Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2009 (H.R. 3548), unemployment compensation benefit payments will be extended for an additional 14 weeks in all states. In states where the unemployment rate is at or above 8.5 percent, jobless workers will be eligible for 6 additional weeks of benefits.
The bill also extends for five months the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers program for homes placed under purchase contract by April 30. In addition, the bill creates a new $6,500 tax credit toward the purchase of a new home that may be available to homeowners who have lived in their current residences for at least five years. The credit would be limited to purchases of principal residences priced at $800,000 or less. The bill also raises the income limits on the homebuyer tax credits to $125,000 for individuals and $225,000 for married couples, up from $75,000 and $150,000, respectively.