DC First-Time Homebuyer Reduction Applies to Revocable Trusts

As of October 1, 2017, the District of Columbia passed a reduced recordation tax benefit to first-time homebuyers that reduces the Recordation Tax for eligible DC First Time Homebuyers.

In general, the recordation tax will be reduced to 0.725% if the homebuyer taking title has never owned a principal residence in the District and the purchase price does not exceed $625,000. For more details on the general eligibility requirements, click here.

What was unclear from the passage of the initial legislation was whether a purchaser taking title in the name of a trust was eligible for the discount.

Since then, the District issued a Notice of Final Rulemaking clarifying that a revocable trust is eligible for the discount.

This allows for consistency with the Homestead Deduction, since it is a condition of the Reduced Recordation Tax that the property must qualify for the homestead deduction, and the homestead deduction does allow for revocable trusts to apply.

What's the benefit of the DC First Time Homebuyer Recordation Tax Deduction

What's the benefit of the DC First Time Homebuyer Recordation Tax  Deduction

What’s the Benefit?

DC First-Time Recordation Tax is reduced to 0.725% from customary 1.1% or 1.4%.

Qualifications*

  • Homebuyer* has never owned a principal residence in the District of Columbia.
  • Homebuyer must qualify for the DC Homestead Deduction.
  • Purchase price cannot exceed $625,000.
  • Total Household Income cannot exceed defined thresholds listed below:
    • Persons in Households / Income Limits
      • 1 / $139,140
      • 2 / $158,940
      • 3 / $178,740
      • 4 / $198,540
      • 5 / $214,560
      • 6 / $230,400
      • 7 / $246,240
      • 8 / $262,080

What's the Benefit of the Maryland First-time Homebuyer Tax Credit?

What's the Benefit of the Maryland First-time Homebuyer Tax Credit?

What’s the Benefit?

The Maryland First-Time Homebuyer Credit exempts the buyer from paying the State Transfer Tax.

Qualifications*

  • All homebuyers must be individuals (cannot be a trust or other entity) who have never owned in the state of Maryland residential real property that has been the individual(s) principal residence; and
  • The residence will be occupied as the homebuyer’s principal residence.

* There is an exemption that will allow a homebuyer to qualify if a co-buyer is on title solely for the loan qualification and will not occupy the property as a principal residence.

DC Tax Abatement: A Deeper Look at the Income Threshold

Note: For those unfamiliar with the DC Tax Abatement program or in need of a refresher, Federal Title & Escrow covers the basics of the program in the following blog post - How to Qualify for the DC Tax Abatement Program.  As always, you can find the most up-to-date Tax Abatement Application on the Office of Tax and Revenue’s website.   

I recently had a question from one of our agents regarding the income threshold for the DC Tax Abatement Program. The question was prompted because the buyer’s salary was below the income limit; however, the buyer planned to liquidate assets (specifically stocks) in order to make the down payment. The issue boiled down to this - how would the liquidation of assets affect qualifying income for the DC Tax Abatement Program?

The answer is relatively straightforward. Part III of the Tax Abatement application requires that an applicant disclose his or her household gross income. This includes but is not limited to the following:

(a) wages and salary,

(b) dividends & interest,

(c) business income,

(d) pensions & annuities,

(e) capital gains & profits,

(f) alimony,

(g) social security,

(h) unemployment insurance and/or workman’s compensation,

(i) support money and/or public assistance grants,

(j) sick pay excluded from home,

(k) military compensation,

(l) fellowship awards and grants,

(m) life insurance proceeds,

(n) veteran’s pension and disability benefits,

(o) GI bill benefits,

(p) loss time insurance,

(q) income subject to Unincorporated Business Tax,

(r) cash distributions, and

(s) other [the District’s catchall].

In the aforementioned situation, the liquidation of assets – specifically the capital gains/profits from those assets – would have counted towards the buyer’s gross income and resulted in the buyer’s disqualification from the DC Tax Abatement program. 

Interestingly, the timing of the liquidation of assets matters less than you may suspect. The tax abatement program instills a duty to report when a homebuyer ceases to qualify for the program. If the homebuyer liquidates assets after the initial application – thereby increasing his or her household gross income over the threshold, the homeowner must alert DC as to the disqualification. The Office of Tax and Revenue’s Special Programs Unit audits every application every year, and a homeowner who improperly avails themselves of the program potentially faces removal from the tax abatement program, recoupment of real property taxes with penalties and interest, and recoupment of the previously exempted transfer and recordation taxes.

Fortunately, our buyer was able secure additional financing and avoid potential disqualification since the issue addressed in a timely manner. 

If you have any questions regarding the calculation of gross income for the DC Tax Abatement application, contact us! Federal Title & Escrow is here to help you throughout the settlement process – including any potential questions with the DC Tax Abatement application.

 

DC Real Property Assessment Cap Credit

Understanding the property tax assessment process can be a bit tricky. Specifically, it can be difficult to understand the difference between an assessed value and a taxable assessed value. Part of the confusion has to do with the Assessment Cap Credit. Here is an example of a recent question on this topic: 

Question: On my DC Tax bill, the assessed value is listed as $388,500, but my taxable assessment was only $291,200, a difference of $97,300. What accounts for this difference?

Answer:  The bulk of the difference has to do with the Homestead Deduction, which reduces the real property taxable assessment by $72,450.  However, there is a second benefit to the Homestead Deduction that receives a lot less attention, the Assessment Cap Credit.  This credit provides that the taxable assessment cannot increase more than 10% per year.  The credit is not applied against the assessed value, but it is used to reduce the taxable assessed value.  In the above question, the additional credit that reduces the taxable assessment by a further $24,850 is the assessed cap credit.  Further, based on the above numbers, next year’s taxable assessment cannot exceed $320,320 ($291,200 plus 10%), regardless of the assessed value (assuming of course that the property is still registered as a homestead).

The District of Columbia Office of Tax and Revenue has great information on their website that explains in detail the real property process and the credits available.

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