AP answers your news questions, from homebuyer tax credits to disposing of recalled goods

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ask AP: Tax credits, disposing of recalled goods

Toxic pet food. Lead-painted toys. Hazardous baby cribs. The sheer volume of recalled products makes you wonder: What happens to all that stuff after it’s ordered off the shelves?

Curiosity about disposing of recalled goods inspired one of the questions in this edition of “Ask AP,” a weekly Q&A column where AP journalists respond to readers’ questions about the news.

If you have your own news-related question that you’d like to see answered by an AP reporter or editor, send it to newsquestions@ap.org, with “Ask AP” in the subject line. And please include your full name and hometown so they can be published with your question.

You can also find Ask AP on AP Mobile, a multimedia news service available on Internet-enabled cell phones. Go to www.apnews.com/ to learn more.

I have a few questions regarding tax credits for homebuyers. When is the deadline to apply? How do you apply? What type of documents do you need? If you bought your home in December 2008, do you qualify? What if you purchased your home in another state? Does that make any difference?

Joyce Hollowell


The deadline is approaching for the federal tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time homebuyers and up to $6,500 for current homeowners. To qualify, a buyer interested in either credit must sign a binding sales contract by April 30, and complete his or her home purchase by June 30.

You can claim the credit on your federal income tax return, the Internal Revenue Service says. You should fill out IRS Form 5405 to determine your credit amount. Then, you should claim that total on line 67 of the 1040 income tax form for 2009 returns, line 69 for 2008 returns.

Also, buyers must attach a copy of their HUD-1 settlement statement to Form 5405. A HUD-1 settlement form lists the costs and charges for a borrower in a home purchase. It also lists the names of the parties involved, and the property’s address, sales price and purchase date. If no HUD-1 form was used, then a certificate of occupancy or an executed retail sales contract should be submitted.

In addition, buyers who claim the current homeowner credit must show they’ve lived in their old home for at least five consecutive years during the past eight years. Acceptable documents to establish that include mortgage interest statements, property tax records or homeowner’s insurance records.

People who purchased a home in 2008 do not qualify for either tax credit. However, first-time homebuyers who bought between April 8, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2009, can qualify for a tax credit of up to $7,500 that must be paid back, much like an interest-free loan.

And, as long as the buyer uses the newly purchased home as his main residence, there are no geographical limitations within the United States for the tax credits.

Adrian Sainz

AP Real Estate Writer, Miami

Over the last year there have been many recalls of Chinese-made and other products. Where do all these items go after they are taken off the shelves?

Sara Schreiber

Corvallis, Ore.

It depends on the nature of the recall.

Some products are repaired and sent back to consumers or retailers. Other products are destroyed by the recalling company. Some companies that recall products hire outside collectors, which must safely dispose of recalled products.

Recalled products that contain hazardous metals or chemicals, such as lead, must be destroyed in a way that is in keeping with state and local environmental laws.

For a small number of products, the company recalling the item might be allowed by the government to export the goods back to the country where they were made or to another country for disposal.

Sometimes the hardest thing is getting all products pulled off the shelves at chains that might have hundreds of stores.

Some retailers have a “lockout” option in their computer systems that won’t let shoppers buy a product that has been recalled, even if it’s still on the shelves.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission says this is often true of toys, children’s clothing, electronics and other goods sold at major toy stores and box retailers.

Mae Anderson

AP Retail Writer, New York

How many NHL and non-NHL players were on the American and Canadian Olympic men’s hockey teams? And which NHL teams do the pros play for?

Tom Jeffs

Edison, N.J.

All the players on the U.S. and Canadian squads were NHL players.

The U.S. players and their NHL teams:

Goalkeepers: Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres; Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings; Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins. Defensemen: Tim Gleason, Carolina Hurricanes; Erik Johnson, St. Louis Blues; Jack Johnson, Los Angeles Kings; Brooks Orpik, Pittsburgh Penguins; Brian Rafalski, Detroit Red Wings; Ryan Suter, Nashville Predators; Ryan Whitney, Anaheim Ducks. Forwards: David Backes, St. Louis Blues; Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings; Ryan Callahan, New York Rangers; Chris Drury, New York Rangers; Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks; Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks; Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs; Jamie Langenbrunner, New Jersey Devils; Ryan Malone, Tampa Bay Lightning; Zach Parise, New Jersey Devils; Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks; Bobby Ryan, Anaheim Ducks; Paul Stastny, Colorado Avalanche.

And the Canadian team:

Goalkeepers: Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks; Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins; Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils. Defensemen: Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks; Shea Weber, Nashville Predators; Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks; Drew Doughty; Los Angeles Kings; Chris Pronger, Philadelphia Flyers; Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks; Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim Ducks. Forwards: Brenden Morrow, Dallas Stars; Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks; Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames; Dany Heatley, San Jose Sharks; Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks; Michael Richards, Philadelphia Flyers; Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks; Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes; Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks; Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins; Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks; Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets; Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins.

Mike Stewart

AP Production Editor, New York

Have questions of your own? Send them to newsquestions@ap.org.

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