The Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) Program was established by Congress in 1984 as a way to provide assistance for first-time home buyers with the requisite low to moderate income levels. The program is funded by the federal government and one of the most comprehensive home buyer assistance programs. Many buyers who may qualify, however, know nothing about the program and its benefits.
Home buyers can apply for the MCC when they complete their mortgage loan application. The MCC covers the purchase of any single family or 2-4 unit dwelling that will serve as the borrower’s primary residence. If the buyer plans to use the property as an investment or for vacation purposes, it is not eligible for the MCC. The property value cannot exceed a maximum that differs by location. In addition, the buyer must apply at the time of the initial home purchase and not during a later financing of an existing loan. Under the MCC guidelines, a first-time home buyer is anyone who has not owned a primary residence in the past three years. So, having owned a home at some point in the past does not automatically disqualify a borrower from the MCC Program.
Indiana does have a couple of exceptions to the first-time home buyer requirement. Eligible veterans may be exempt from the first-time home buyer limitation. In addition, properties that are located inside what are known as “Targeted Areas” are exempt from the first-time home buyer requirements. There are thirty counties in the state of Indiana that are categorized as special “Targeted Areas.” In addition, there are many qualifying census tracts outside of the counties designated as “Targeted Area.” Borrowers, therefore, should check the location of the property they are buying to see if qualifies for an exemption to the first-time home buyer requirement.
The MCC Program works by providing a federal tax credit each year of up to $2,000. The actual amount of the tax credit equals a percent of the annual interest paid and accrued on the borrower’s mortgage loan. The federal income tax credit essentially creates a source of extra income for the borrower that could be used on the mortgage. This effective additional income also assists home buyers by improving some of the payment-to-income ratios banks use when evaluating potential borrowers.
Finally, the amount of the tax credit cannot exceed the borrower’s annual income tax liability after accounting for all sources of tax credits and deductions. For example, a borrower receiving the maximum $2000 tax credit must have a tax liability at the end of the year that exceeds $2000 after accounting for all other tax credits and deductions. In addition, the MCC Program tax credit reduces the amount of mortgage interest tax deduction that a borrower can claim. The itemized mortgage interest tax credit is reduced by the amount of the MCC tax credit.
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