Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., has introduced a bill that would increase the maximum amount of the first-time homebuyer tax credit from $8,000 to $15,000.

The tax credit, which Congress included earlier this year in the stimulus package, aims to revive the still-anemic housing market. Isakson, who had a career in the real estate industry before he was elected to the Senate, claims the credit has already helped encourage home sales, and he has attracted bipartisan support for the measure. One of the co-sponsors is Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.

“The first-time homebuyer tax credit has made a difference,” said Isakson in a statement. “First-time homebuyers used it and the market stabilized, but we don't have a recession in first-time home buyers. We have a recession in the move-up market. One of the biggest problems facing the American people today is an illiquid housing market, a decline in their equity, a decline in their net worth and a depression in the housing market that we are obligated to correct if we possibly can.”

Along with increasing the maximum amount of the credit, the proposed legislation would also expand the current tax credit so that it applies to any buyer of any home, not just first-time buyers.

The legislation also would eliminate the income caps of $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a couple under the current tax credit so that there would be no income limit for eligibility. Finally, the legislation would extend the tax credit for one year from the date of enactment, and would still allow homebuyers to claim the credit on their 2009 tax return for purchases made in 2010.

Other co-sponsors for the bill include Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; Jim Bunning, R-Ky.; Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; John Ensign, R-Nev.; Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; James Risch, R-Idaho; and David Vitter, R-La.

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