The deadline to apply for the Livable Homes Tax Credit is February 28. If you purchased a new home or remodeled an existing home in 2010 and the new home or the remodeling involved accessibility features you could be eligible for a tax credit of up to $2,000 on your Virginia income taxes. I talked about this program in the May 2010 edition of Housing Matters. I hope to clarify the requirements and remind people not to miss the deadline of February 28.
If you purchased a new home in 2010 (either newly built or converted from a non residential use) and it meets the three features of Universal Visitability or incorporates three accessibility features and meets the requirements of an existing standard, you are eligible to take the $2,000 credit. The three features of Universal Visitability are 1) at least one zero step entry into the house, 2) an accessible bathroom on the same level as the zero step entry, and 3) doorways with at least 32” clear width and hallways and passageways with at least 36” clear width leading from the zero step entry to the bathroom and an eating area. If all of these three features are present, there are no further requirements. If you do not have all three of these, the home must incorporate three accessibility features and meet the requirements of an existing standard. Some examples of accessibility features are:
- Accessible route such as a ramp
- Zero step entry
- Zero step entrance
- 32” clear width doorways
- 36” clear width hallways
- Accessible switches, outlets, and controls
- Accessible bathrooms
- Accessible and usable kitchen facilities
- Grab bars
- Lever handles on doors and fixtures
- Sensory modifications
The requirement that you meet an existing standard is a little murkier because there are several different standards that exist that could be referenced. I have found that the ADA Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG), while not technically applicable to single family homes, will cover you if you are in compliance. If you have specific questions, get in touch with me and I’ll do my best to answer them for you.
If you retrofitted or remodeled an existing home, the project must include at least one accessibility feature and meet the requirements of an existing standard. If sensory modifications have been provided, they must be structurally integrated into the home. Sensory modifications are anything that would assist sensory disabled people such as a doorbell that activated a strobe light for a person with hearing loss. Any device must be permanently attached to the home to qualify. The credit for retrofitting an existing home is also $2,000 but is limited to 50% of the cost of the project actually incurred by the taxpayer. Please note that any costs paid through Granting Freedom, the VA, VHDA, Department of Rehabilitative Services, or any other organization would not be eligible for the credit.
For either new or existing homes, if the credit exceeds your tax liability, you may carry the credit forward for up to five years, and if the amount of eligible credits exceeds one million dollars, each approved taxpayer will receive a pro rata amount of credit. Once you have submitted your application you will receive a tax credit certificate from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development by April 1.
I hope this information is helpful and not too confusing. If you have questions or need a copy of the application, please call me at (540) 384-2064 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.