First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit 2024: Everything You Need to Know

The dream of owning a home in Canada can feel daunting, especially with rising interest rates and fluctuating housing prices. However, the government offers incentives like the First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit (HBTC) to make this journey easier. While other programs like the First-Time Home Buyer Incentive (FTHBI) have been discontinued as of March 31, 2024, there are still several ways to make your homeownership dream a reality. This comprehensive guide will explain everything you need to know about the HBTC, how it can benefit you, and other resources available to first-time homebuyers in Canada.

The Canadian Housing Landscape: Challenges and Opportunities

The Canadian housing market is a dynamic and ever-changing landscape. While it presents challenges for aspiring homeowners, it also offers opportunities for those who understand its nuances and prepare strategically. Before diving into the HBTC, let’s understand the Canadian housing market.

  • Rising Rates, Falling Prices: The Bank of Canada’s consecutive rate hikes have cooled the overheated market, but higher mortgage rates mean buyers need more income to qualify for the same loan amount.
  • Affordability Challenges:’s 2023 report revealed that buyers in Canada’s 10 largest cities now need significantly higher incomes to afford an average-priced home due to increased mortgage stress test rates.
  • Closing Costs Add Up: On top of down payments, buyers face hefty closing costs, including legal fees, inspections, and land transfer taxes.

 What is the First-Time Home Buyers’ Tax Credit (HBTC)?

The HBTC is a federal government initiative designed to make the dream of homeownership a little more attainable for Canadians. It’s a non-refundable tax credit, which means it reduces the amount of income tax you owe. This could result in a larger tax refund or a smaller tax bill.

How Does it Work?

  • Tax Credit: The HBTC allows you to claim a $10,000 credit on your income tax return in the year you purchase your qualifying home.
  • Tax Rate: The amount of the actual rebate you receive depends on your income tax rate. The lowest federal tax bracket in Canada is currently 15%, so the maximum rebate is $1,500 ($10,000 x 15%).
  • Eligibility: To claim the credit, you (or your spouse/common-law partner) must meet all of the following criteria:
    • Be considered a first-time homebuyer. This means you haven’t owned a home that was your principal residence at any time in the current year or the previous four years.
    • Purchase a qualifying home (a single-family home, semi-detached home, townhouse, mobile home, condo, or apartment in Canada).
    • Move into the home within one year of buying it.
    • Designate the home as your principal residence.
  • Non-Refundable: If the credit reduces your tax owing to zero, you won’t receive a refund for the remaining amount.

Purpose and Benefits

The primary purpose of the HBTC is to help offset some of the costs associated with buying a first home, such as:

  • Closing Costs: Legal fees, land transfer taxes, home inspections, etc.
  • Moving Expenses: Costs associated with relocating to your new home.
  • Home Improvements: Minor renovations or repairs to make your new house feel like home.

Navigating Canada’s First-Time Homebuyer Programs

Beyond the HBTC, the Canadian government offers other programs aimed at assisting first-time homebuyers. However, each program has its unique features and benefits:

HBTC vs. First-Time Home Buyer Incentive (FTHBI):

The FTHBI was a program designed to help first-time homebuyers reduce their monthly mortgage payments by providing a shared equity loan from the government.

Important Note: The FTHBI program was discontinued as of March 31, 2024.

Type of AssistanceTax creditShared equity loan
Financial Assistance$1,500 tax rebate5% or 10% of the home’s purchase price
Equity ImpactNo impact on your equity – you retain full ownershipGovernment shares in your home’s equity
RepaymentNo repayment requiredRepaid upon sale of the home or after 25 years, whichever comes first
ProsSimple, no ongoing obligationsLower initial down payment, potentially lower monthly payments
ConsA relatively small amount of assistanceReduced equity, the potential for less financial gain upon sale

HBTC vs. First Home Savings Account (FHSA):

The FHSA is a tax-advantaged savings account specifically for first-time homebuyers. While both the HBTC and FHSA cater to first-time buyers, they serve different purposes in your homeownership journey.

NatureTax creditRegistered savings account
Benefit$1,500 rebateTax-free growth, tax deductions on contributions, potential government grant
EligibilityFirst-time homebuyersFirst-time homebuyers
Contribution LimitsN/A$8,000 annually, $40,000 lifetime
TimeframeClaimed in the year of purchaseContributions and withdrawals can be made over time
FlexibilityLimited to tax creditMore flexible for saving and using funds for a down payment

Eligibility for the HBTC

To qualify for the HBTC, you (or your spouse/common-law partner) must meet ALL of the following conditions:

  1. First-Time Homebuyer Status:
  2. Neither you nor your spouse/common-law partner owned a home that you lived in as your principal residence at any time during the four years before the year you purchased your new home.
  3. Exceptions exist for individuals with disabilities or those who lived with their spouse/common-law partner who owned a home in that period.
  4. Qualifying Home:
  5. The home must be located in Canada and registered in your (or your spouse/common-law partner’s) name.
  6. It must be a single-family home, semi-detached home, townhouse, mobile home, condo unit, or apartment in a duplex, triplex, fourplex, or apartment building.
  7. Written Agreement:
  8. You must have a written agreement to buy the qualifying home.
  9. Occupancy Requirement:
  10. You must intend to occupy the qualifying home as your principal residence within one year after buying it.

Claiming the HBTC – A Step-by-Step Guide:

  • Purchase Your Home: Make sure you meet all the eligibility requirements.
  • Fill Out the Form: Claim the HBTC on Line 31270 of Schedule 1 of your income tax return.
  • Supporting Documents (Optional): While not mandatory, keeping documents like the purchase agreement, land transfer documents, and proof of occupancy can be helpful if the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requests them.
  • CRA Review: The CRA will review your claim and calculate your rebate if you’re eligible.
  • Receive Your Rebate: The rebate will either be applied to your tax payable or included in your tax refund.

Additional Tax Credits and Programs:

  • Land Transfer Tax Rebates: Many provinces and territories offer rebates on land transfer taxes for first-time homebuyers. The amount and eligibility requirements vary, so check your local government’s website for details.
  • GST/HST New Housing Rebate: If you purchased a new or substantially renovated home and paid GST/HST, you could be eligible for a rebate from the federal government. This rebate can be significant, potentially thousands of dollars.
  • Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP): This program lets you withdraw up to $35,000 from your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) to buy or build a qualifying home for yourself or a related person with a disability. You don’t pay tax on the withdrawal, but you have to repay the amount over time.

The Bottom Line

The best option for you depends on your circumstances and goals. The HBTC provides a simple and immediate benefit upon purchasing your home. The FHSA is a longer-term savings tool that offers tax advantages and flexibility.  If you’re a first-time homebuyer in Canada, consider all your options carefully and consult with a financial advisor to determine the best strategy for maximizing your savings and achieving your homeownership dreams. The Canadian housing market is complex, but government programs like the HBTC can make it more accessible for first-time buyers. By understanding your eligibility and taking advantage of these programs, you can make informed decisions and build a solid foundation for your future as a homeowner.

Most frequently asked questions (FAQs)

  • Who qualifies for the HBTC?
    • You (and your spouse/common-law partner) must not have owned and lived in a home in the current year or the previous four years. There are exceptions for individuals with disabilities and those who lived with a spouse/partner who owned a home.
  • How much is the HBTC worth?
    • The HBTC is a $10,000 tax credit. The actual amount you receive back depends on your income tax rate.
  • How do I claim the HBTC?
    • You claim it on line 31270 of Schedule 1 of your income tax return.
  • Can I claim the HBTC if I’m buying a home with someone else?
    • Only one person (or you and your spouse/common-law partner together) can claim the HBTC per home purchase.
  • What kind of homes qualify for the HBTC?
    • Single-family homes, semi-detached homes, townhouses, mobile homes, condo units, and apartments in multi-unit buildings all qualify.
  • What is the FHSA?
    • A registered savings account designed to help first-time homebuyers save for a down payment.
  • How much can I contribute to an FHSA?
    • You can contribute up to $8,000 per year, with a lifetime limit of $40,000.
  • What are the tax benefits of an FHSA?
    • Contributions are tax-deductible, like an RRSP. Investment growth within the FHSA is tax-free, and withdrawals for a down payment are also tax-free.
  • Who is eligible for an FHSA?
    • You must be a Canadian resident over 18 who is a first-time homebuyer.
Pegasus: Your Path to a Better Mortgage