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Understanding Recapture Tax for Down Payment Assistance Programs

Jason Kauffman | June 24, 2024

Purchasing a home for the first time can be both exciting and daunting, especially when navigating the various financial assistance programs available. Down Payment Assistance (DPA) programs are a valuable resource for many first-time homebuyers, helping to cover the initial costs associated with buying a home. However, it’s important to understand the potential implications of these programs, including the recapture tax.

What is Recapture Tax?

The recapture tax is a federal tax that may be owed when a homeowner sells their home within nine years of purchase if they used a Mortgage Revenue Bond (MRB) loan or certain types of Down Payment Assistance (DPA) programs. The tax is designed to reclaim some of the financial benefits provided to the homeowner if their financial situation improves significantly after buying the home.

When Does Recapture Tax Apply?

Recapture tax applies under the following conditions:

  • Sale of the Home: The home is sold within nine years of purchase.
  • Profit on Sale: The homeowner makes a profit on the sale.
  • Income Growth: The homeowner’s income increases beyond certain limits set by the IRS during the period of homeownership.

Calculating Recapture Tax

The amount of recapture tax owed is calculated based on several factors:

  • Original Loan Amount: The tax is a percentage of the original mortgage loan amount.
  • Income Growth: The homeowner’s income must be compared to the income limits set at the time of sale. If the income exceeds these limits, a portion of the assistance received may be subject to recapture.
  • Years of Ownership: The recapture amount decreases over time. It is highest if the home is sold in the first few years and gradually decreases to zero by the ninth year.

Exemptions and Reductions

Several conditions can reduce or eliminate the recapture tax:

  • No Gain on Sale: If there is no profit from the sale, no recapture tax is due.
  • Income Limits: If the homeowner’s income does not increase significantly above the limits set by the IRS, the recapture tax may be reduced or eliminated.
  • Exceptions: Certain life events, such as job loss or a significant decrease in income, may exempt the homeowner from paying the recapture tax.

Impact on Homebuyers

While the possibility of a recapture tax might seem concerning, it’s important to note that it only affects a small percentage of homeowners. The benefits of using a DPA program to achieve homeownership often outweigh the potential for this tax. Additionally, the recapture tax is only a factor if all three conditions (sale within nine years, profit on sale, and significant income increase) are met. And a final note is that many of the down payment assistance programs where this tax could apply will reimburse the homeowner if they are subject to the recapture tax.

How to Prepare

  1. Understand the Terms: When using a DPA program, make sure to understand all terms and conditions, including the potential for recapture tax.
  2. Monitor Income Growth: Be aware of how your income changes over time and how it compares to the limits set by the IRS.
  3. Plan for the Long Term: Consider your long-term plans for the home. If you plan to stay for more than nine years, the recapture tax will not apply.


Recapture tax is an important consideration for first-time homebuyers using DPA programs, but it should not deter potential buyers from utilizing these valuable resources. By understanding how recapture tax works and planning accordingly, homeowners can make informed decisions and enjoy the benefits of homeownership.

For more detailed information, you can refer to the IRS guidelines on recapture tax: IRS Publication 523

Jason Blog Bio

Jason Kauffman

Jason Kauffman is one of the owners of Uptown Mortgage and a licensed mortgage originator. He is a veteran in the mortgage industry with over 20 years of experience helping people get financing on their homes. The same experience that he brings to his clients is what he brings to the mortgage content that he produces. His goal is to help educate current and prospective homeowners on subjects that are relevant to the homebuying process.

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