California home buyers can begin claiming $10,000 tax credits starting May 1 under a bill expected to be signed soon by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The legislation allocates $200 million for more state tax credits — twice what was offered last year to 10,659 buyers of new, unoccupied homes. The state's newest housing stimulus will grant $100 million in tax credits to first-time buyers of existing homes and $100 million to anyone who buys a new, unoccupied home.
The state Franchise Tax Board on Tuesday estimated nearly 32,000 homeowners statewide might get the tax breaks. Buyers must close escrow or reserve a credit on or after May 1 and before or on Dec. 31 to qualify.
The bill, AB 183, passed both houses of the Legislature by near unanimous votes. But one local lawmaker, Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, voted against it.
"I think it's a lot of money in a deficit situation that doesn't have the desired benefit," Niello said Tuesday, noting that housing prices are still depressed despite earlier credits designed to stimulate the market.
Niello's view was clearly a minority one, however.
"This tax credit has a proven track record," said Assemblywoman Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, who authored the bill along with Sen. Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield. Caballero said California's construction industry reported a 39 percent increase in building permits after the first round of tax credits began in March 2009 and proved more popular than expected. It ran out last July 2.
Schwarzenegger spokesman Mike Naple said Tuesday the governor supports the bill "and is expected to sign it."
The governor signaled his intent Monday while signing two other budget bills. In a signing message, he commended the Legislature for approving the tax credit bill, saying it will stimulate "the housing industry, creating jobs for thousands of Californians."
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