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Final push for tax credit

Cost, benefits and fraud weighed in hearings

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Real estate industry trade groups are mounting a final push for an extension of the first-time homebuyer tax credit, with Sen. Johnny Isakson planning to tie the issue to an extension of unemployment benefits.Lawmakers are holding two hearings this week during which the tax credit, scheduled to expire Nov. 30, will be debated.On Thursday, the U.S. House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee will discuss more than 100,000 suspected cases of fraud involving the credit currently being investigated by the IRS.In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee today, Isakson, R-Ga., said he plans to introduce an amendment to legislation extending unemployment benefits that would make the current $8,000 tax credit available until June 30.Isakson's amendment would raise the income limits for the credit to $150,000 for individuals and $300,000 for a couples. The existing tax credit can't be claimed by individuals making more than $95,000 or couples with adjusted incomes of more than $170,000.Op...