Homebuyers still waiting for tax credit

April 23, 2010 5:25:07 PM PDT
An $8,000 federal tax credit for first time home buyers has been a huge incentive for people to get into their first home, and it's been a huge boon for the troubled housing industry.

But the ABC11 Eyewitness News I-Team Troubleshooter hotline has been ringing off the hook with people complaining that they haven't seen their checks.

"We just want our money," said Chris Brinkley.

Brinkley bought a new home in July. He says he's a first time homebuyer, and was excited about the tax credit.

"It is the reason we bought the new home," he said.

Right after he closed on the home, he says he amended his 2008 taxes and waited for his $8,000. What he got was a letter from the IRS.

"Asking for more information, a little vague so I had to call them," he said.

Brinkley sent off what he was asked for, but instead of a check, he got another letter from the IRS asking for still more information.

"About 7 weeks later we finally got another letter in March that said we finally received your information in February and it's going to take another 45 days just to look at it. Once that 45 is up in May, it's going to be 10 months since we first asked for the credit back," he said.

All this waiting has taken a financial toll.

"It didn't help that five weeks after buying the home, my wife lost her job. We were definitely in need of the money. That $8,000 would have been great for us last year when she was still out of work," said Brinkley.

Brinkley is not alone, so we went to the IRS to find out why it's taking so long. According to an IRS spokesperson, there are many reasons behind the delays, including homeowners navigating a complex set of rules that could lead to inadvertent errors when filing.

Also, you can't file electronically, so that takes the IRS more time to process the claim. Plus, if your claim is subject to further review, it means more work for the IRS which equals more delays - as much as five months, possibly even more. Add that to the potential fraud. The IRS is investigating more than 185 criminal schemes.

"I know there's fraud out there and they need to protect themselves, but it gets to a point where tell us what we need, tell us what information you need then we can do it," said Brinkley.

To add to Brinkley's frustrations, he did get two letters from the IRS stating the $8,000 tax credit is on its way. The problem? The letters aren't for the Brinkleys. Instead, they included the personal information of two other taxpayers who applied for the credit.

"Their name, address, social security number that said hey you guys qualified for the $8,000 dollars, but not you, not us," said Brinkley.

Brinkley says he's lost faith in the IRS, and just wants his $8,000 tax credit.

"Now that we sent in what seems like everything, they're telling us it's going to be another 45 days. Come on, we're giving you what you need, we need our money," said Brinkley.

Besides the Brinkleys, ABC11 has heard from four other first time homebuyers in the same situation. All of them need their money, and all of them are still waiting. They say they've had no positive response from the IRS, except asking for more information.

An IRS spokesperson said they're not permitted to discuss specific taxpayer's matters due to privacy laws. As for the Brinkleys getting letters with other taxpayer's personal information? The spokesperson said the IRS takes that very seriously and take steps to make sure that doesn't happen, and is looking into it. He added that if it happens, the taxpayer should contact the IRS right away.

So, if you're thinking about taking advantage, be warned. It may take awhile to get that $8,000 credit.

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