A bill signed into law Friday by President Obama extends the homebuyer tax credit, originally scheduled to expire Nov. 30. This new law will give buyers until April 30, 2010 to sign purchase contracts and another 60 days to close. And it will no longer be just for first-time buyers. Homeowners who have lived in their current home for five of the last eight years can claim $6,500, under the new law, which would only apply to houses purchased after the current tax credit expires Nov. 30. Income limits will be more generous: $125,000 a year for individuals, $225,000 a year for married couple.

Since both first time as well as existing homebuyers can benefit from this credit extension, below are some clarification for the benefits.

First-time home buyers. A  "first-time home buyer" is defined as someone who hasn't owned a home in the three years before the purchase. If your spouse owned a home in that time frame, you're not eligible. So, those eligible can claim a tax credit for 10% of the purchase price, up to a maximum credit of $8,000. The credit is refundable, which means that if you owe less than $8,000 in taxes, you'll receive a refund for the difference. The credit is not available for home purchases that exceed $800,000.

You can claim the credit if you sign a sales contract before May 1, 2010, and close before July 1. Members of the military who serve extended duty outside the USA have until July 1, 2011, to claim the credit, as long as they sign a contract before May 1, 2011.

Existing homeowners. Home buyers who have lived in their current home for five out of the last eight years qualify for a tax credit of up to $6,500. The deadlines are the same as for first-time home buyers.

The income requirements for existing homeowners are also the same as those for first-time home buyers. Likewise, existing homeowners can't claim the credit if they purchase a home for more than $800,000.

Taxpayers can claim the credit on their federal income tax returns. If the credit exceeds their tax bill, the government will issue a payment. Taxpayers who want immediate refunds can amend their tax returns for 2008 to claim the credit.

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