Real Estate Blog
Wednesday, June 25 2008
Here's a tax loophole that can benefit YOU, the future homeowner: You can actually use part or all of your IRA for a down payment on a house! That is, if you're a first-time buyer.
Whether you need the money for the actual down payment, for closing costs, or you need to save some cash for repairs, if you're a first-time homebuyer, you can actually withdraw from your IRA penalty-free if it's going towards your home purchase. The IRS allows a withdrawal of up to $10,000 from your IRA if you will be using the funds to build, buy, or refurbish a home within 120 days. If you're married, and you and your spouse are both first-time buyers, the total allowed amount bumps up to $20,000.
What if you have owned a house before, but your spouse has not? If your spouse has never held any ownership interest in a house, the "first time buyer" exception applies! Also, if you've owned in the past, but have been renting or otherwise not held an ownership interest in a principle residence for at least 2 years, the "first time buyer" exception applies to you, as well. You can even withdrawal funds penalty-free if your first home purchase is for a child, grandchild, or parent.
You'll want to be careful if your IRA is a Roth IRA less than 5 years in age, or if you have a traditional IRA. With either a traditional IRA or Roth IRA opened less than 5 years ago, the amount withdrawn will be subject to income tax. If you have both a Roth IRA and traditional IRA, there's a specific order in which you are allowed to make withdrawals. See IRS Publication 590: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p590.pdf
If you're short on cash, taking advantage of the first-time buyer exception can be a great option for first-time buyers. It's also great for one-time homeowners who are ready to own again!