If the administration is looking for one more reason to do everything they can to create jobs, they don't have to look much farther than the housing crisis. But the rationale extends far beyond simply keeping people in their homes. Presumably if more people were employed it might distract some of them from their current full-time occupation of trying to cheat the system. Not surprisingly, when the government advertises free cash in any form, there's a stampede to get to the front of the line and the home-buyer tax credit program is no exception.
Fresh off its tax evading stakeout operation, the IRS is now having a closer look at over 100,000 claims and 167 criminal schemes originating from people betting the era of housing-based lying is far from over. But this can actually be viewed as progress. For once, market participants and regulators have identified the sources and extent of fraud relatively early on. They should take this opportunity to congratulate themselves for shutting the fraud flood gates before even more money goes out the door headed for the wrong beneficiaries.
The measure, adopted in February as part of the economic-stimulus bill, gives first-time buyers an $8,000 tax credit in an effort to boost sales and stimulate the moribund housing market. The program is set to end Nov. 30, but housing-industry leaders are lobbying Congress to extend it.