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Homeowner Tax Breaks, Tax Credits, And Grants: The 411

Tax Day is April 15th and that's surely everyone's favorite day. But there are ways to make sure Uncle Sam doesn't get more than his fair share when it comes to your hard-earned dollars. Whether it's a tax credit (money deducted from what you owe the government) or a tax break (something like an exemption or deduction), there are plenty of legal ways to make sure the greenbacks that are meant for you, stay with you. We have a rundown on some of the different options for homeowners after the break.

For those seeking a bit of relief from tax burdens, there are a few options. If you're a Washingtonian who bought your first house in the District on or before 2011, you can claim a $5,000 tax credit. There's also an option to claim the price of the house if the house happened to cost less than $5,000. (Good luck with that one.) There's also the Homestead Deduction for DC homeowners. Here's the story: By filing paperwork with the Office of Tax and Revenue, a homeowner can reduce his property's value by up to $69,100 assuming the property is the owner's primary residence, and there aren't more than five units in the building.

Now if it's cash upfront that you're looking for, then pursuing a grant may be more worthwhile. Earmarked for those considered low or middle income households, the DC Historic Homeowner Grant is "awarded for exterior repairs, rehabilitation, and structural work on historic properties" in a host of historical nabes. The grants are for up to $25,000, except in Anacostia where $35,000 is the upper threshold. The application is a two-part process and is currently looking for applicants considering making upgrades and/or enhancements this spring. But remember that the money from the DC Historic Home Grant ain't free. Like anything else in life, it comes with strings attached. Because it's for historic homes, there are restrictions on what kinds of improvements and changes a property owner can make. For homeowners to qualify for the grants, they need to live in one of the following locales:
· Anacostia
· Blagden Alley/Naylor Court
· Capital Hill
· Fourteenth Street
· LeDroit Park
· Mount Pleasant
· Mount Vernon Square
· Mount Vernon Triangle
· Shaw, Strivers' Section
· U Street
· Takoma Park

There was a Prince of Petworth blog post earlier in March about the DC Historic Homeowners Grant, and the grant manager replied to provide some advice on the grant review process. The manager dispels rumors that grant recipients are required to open their homes for tours. And it's highlighted the grant reviewers prefer more dramatic changes to a historic structure. It's all about those before and after pics.

So there are options available for those that would like to reduce their financial burdens. When it comes to paying taxes (always fun), there are credits and tax breaks for those willing to put forth a bit of time and effort to check them out. And if you've a historic home that needs a bit of fixing, the DC city government has a grant program that may give you some dollars to make the project a reality.

· Tax Credit [Wikipedia]
· Tax Break [Wikipedia]
· DC Historic Homeowner Grant [Official Site]
· Dear PoPville – Has anyone ever applied or recieved a DC Historic Homeowner Grant? [PoP]
· DC First-Time Homebuyer Federal Tax Credit [Official Site]
· Homestead Deduction [Official Site]