Wednesday 19th of December 2018

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House to Vote on More Aid for Jobless & Homebuyers

The House appears nearly ready to send President Barack Obama a measure continuing assistance to more than 1 million people who have nearly exhausted their exhausted their unemployment benefits and extra tax credits for potential homebuyers considered key to reviving the housing market.

The package worth $24 billion also has tax credits designed for businesses needing assistance. The House was scheduled to vote Thursday, a day after the Senate passed the bill 98-0.

As the jobless benefits of 7,000 people expire daily and the current $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers is scheduled to end Nov. 30, it’s expected Obama will sign the bill into law.

The measure would allow14 more weeks of jobless benefits to every person whose unemployment insurance expires this year. An additional six weeks would be provided to states with unemployment rates of at least 8.5 percent.

This would be the fourth time since June 2008 that the benefits time limit has been extended and could mean a jobless person in one of the harder-hit states would get up to 99 weeks of benefits, far exceeding the record 65 weeks granted during the 1970s. “This is probably the last extension,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., a former real estate executive who was an advocate for the credits.

The federal jobless tax that employers pay for each of their workers would be continued through June 2011 to cover the $2.4 billion cost of the additional unemployment benefits. Backers of the plan say the aid is necessary when 15 million jobless people are vying for about 3 million jobs and the jobless rate continues to creep up despite the start of an economic recovery.

The House action also would add another seven months to the $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers. That credit was part of the $787 billion stimulus package approved last February. The program also would include a $6,500 credit for homebuyers who have lived in their current homes for five years. Buyers in both groups would have to sign their purchase agreements by April 30 and close by June 30 to qualify. The credit won’t end until June 30, 2011, for active military serving outside country for at least 90 days.

The credit is allowed only for principal homes costing no more than $800,000. Annual income limits are $125,000 for individuals and $225,000 for those while files taxes jointly.

The measure would permit businesses of any size with losses in 2008 and 2009 to file for refunds on taxes paid on profits during the past five years. Currently, companies with annual gross receipts exceeding $15 million can claim only two years of back losses.

This new tax credit is expected to cost $10.4 billion. The amount would be covered mainly by postponing until 2018 a tax break for multinational companies that also pay taxes to foreign nations. It was approved in 2004 and was to be enacted this year.