Colorado First-Time Homebuyer Savings Accounts
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Colorado First-Time Homebuyer Savings Accounts

A First‐time Homebuyer Savings Account (FHSA) allows any Coloradan to set aside up to $50,000 toward the costs of closing on a new home. The earnings on those funds — interest and capital gains — are free from Colorado state taxes forever.

These accounts are simple and easy to set up. Not only can you open a new one, you can also designate almost any existing account as an FHSA. To create an FHSA, you simply include a form when you file your state taxes. (It will indicate that you should not be taxed on any earnings — e.g., interest or capital gains — because of the account’s FHSA status.)

After you use the money toward the closing costs on a first home (yours or someone else’s — see below), you send in a different form to the Department of Revenue showing that the funds were put toward an “eligible cost.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: WHAT KINDS OF ACCOUNTS CAN BE FHSAS?
A: Almost any account you have with a financial institution: mutual funds, CDs, brokerage (stocks, bonds, etc.), money markets, insurance, even a savings account. FHSAs can also include individual stocks.

Q: HOW MUCH CAN I PUT IN A FHSA ACCOUNT?
A: You can contribute up to a total of $50,000 in principal, and the account can grow in value up to $150,000. There will be an annual contribution cap of $14,000 ($28,000 if filing jointly). There is no limit on how long the account can exist.

Q: WHAT CAN I USE THE MONEY FOR?
A:
An FHSA account can be used to pay for just about anything related to closing on a home — anything included on the settlement statement: closing costs, inspections, lender fees, etc. These are all considered “eligible costs.”

Q: WHAT IS CONSIDERED A FIRST‐TIME HOME BUYER?
A: A first‐time buyer is: Someone who has never purchased a home before. That includes single‐family homes, condos, co-ops, townhouses, or mobile homes. (It does not include land or commercial property.) If you owned a home at some point but did not purchase one — e.g., if you inherited — you can still qualify. It also includes someone divorced who may previously have owned a home with their spouse.

Q: CAN I USE THE MONEY TO PAY FOR SOMEONE ELSE’S CLOSING COSTS?
A:
Yes. As long as the person you’re giving the money to (e.g., child, grandchild, niece, and even a close friend) is a first‐time homebuyer.

Q: CAN I USE MY FHSA FUNDS IF I’M BUYING A HOME WITH SOMEONE WHO IS NOT A FIRST‐TIME BUYER?
A:
Yes, as long as you qualify as a first‐time buyer.

Q: What if I move out of Colorado?
A:
Eligible costs only apply to a first time home purchase in Colorado.

Q: What if I die?
A:
The FHSA account would be handled like any other part of your estate, but the beneficiary of the account would not have
to pay taxes on the assets in the account. This is sometimes referred to as a “stepped‐up basis,” which generally happens
when a person dies and real estate transfers to his heirs.

Scenarios
There are lots of scenarios or “use cases” where a FHSP makes sense. Here are several simple scenarios:

Funding for a child
Phillip and Leigh put $10,000 into a mutual fund that they will use to help their son buy his first home. The money grows over the years. When their son is 26, he decides to buy a home. They sell the shares in the fund — now worth $18,500
— and give it to their son to help with his down payment. Normally they would pay state tax on the $8,500 in earnings, but they file a FHSA form with their Colorado taxes and don’t have to pay a cent in state taxes.

Taxes on the interest
Alfonzo and Patricia take $1,000 they received as a wedding gift and open a money market account at their bank. They
plan to use it towards the closing costs of their first home. Over the next several years they add money when they can,
eventually using it towards their closing costs when they buy their first home. Each year, Alfonzo and Patricia filed their Colorado taxes, they claimed FHSA status as part of their state tax returns, so they are exempt from state tax for all the earnings on that account so long as they use the funds for an “eligible cost”.

Changing your mind
Emma decides to start putting money away for a first home when she graduates college. She opens a high‐yield savings
account with a few hundred dollars and adds to it when she can over the next 12 years. The account grows. Each year, Emma files an FHSA form with the Department of Revenue so she doesn’t have to pay Colorado tax on the interest she’s earned. Then Emma marries Sam, and Sam already owns a house. She won’t need the money after all. They decide to use it for a vacation instead.  Because Emma used the money for a “non‐eligible” purpose — the vacation — Emma must now pay the back taxes on the 12 years of earnings on the account, as well as a five percent penalty on the amount of the earnings over that 12‐year period.


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