WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) voted to support H.R. 3548, legislation that provides an extension of unemployment benefits, a tax credit for homebuyers, and a tax break for struggling businesses.
“Many first-time home buyers have taken advantage of the housing credit, helping the nation’s housing market rebound after so many foreclosures,” Inhofe said. “During these difficult economic times, we should allow individuals and job-creating businesses to keep more of their money, instead of putting it in the hands of Washington bureaucrats. When we provide incentives for private sector growth, jobs will be created, individuals can get back to work, and government assistance can decrease. With the latest unemployment figure in Oklahoma at 6.7%, our state is weathering the storm much better than many other states with much higher unemployment rates. However, it is clear the economy is not yet on the right track.”
The bill extends and expands the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit to stimulate housing sales and support still-weak housing markets across the country. The credit is also expanded to include a $6,500 credit for current homeowners who have lived in their home for at least the last five years to upgrade to a newer home. In addition, the income limits for individuals and families seeking to participate in the tax credit was increased to $125,000 and $250,000 respectively. Homebuyers will now have until the end of April to enter into a purchase agreement.
The bill also includes an important business tax break, a welcome if belated recognition that expanding private sector businesses, not government, creates job growth. Net Operating Loss carry-back will provide struggling businesses with relief so that they can reduce their tax burden, and not their payrolls.
For those still struggling to find work, the bill provides for an extension of Emergency Unemployment Insurance for an additional 14 weeks in Oklahoma and for a total of 20 weeks in states of high unemployment (8.5%). Currently, Oklahomans are eligible for 59 weeks of unemployment benefits and under this bill they would be eligible for up to 73 weeks.