Random News: $8,000 Homebuyer Tax Credit, DollarSavingsDirect 3.02% APY and DTV Delay

Another piece of good news for first-time home buyers from Washington.

U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved a provision that will first-time give homebuyers up to $15,000 tax credit as part of the stimulus plan sought by President Obama. According to an article on NYT, the measure

would give buyers a tax credit of 10 percent of the price of a primary residence purchased within the year, up to $15,000, and is designed to stabilize plummeting home prices that caused a wave of foreclosures and led to the near collapse of the financial system as Wall Street firms wrote down billions in losses on mortgage-backed assets.

The total cost of the tax credit could be as high as $18.5 billion, pushing the total stimulus package to well over $900 billion, according to NYT. Is it time to become a home owner because of the housing tax credit?

Update: In the final bill, the first-time home buyer’s tax credit was reduced to $8,000. New car buyers will also receive tax breaks up on the $49,500 value of the vehicle they purchase. Check out American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for details on homebuyer and new car purchase tax credits.

This morning, when I wrote about a few banks with attractive interest rates I found recently,  I expressed my satisfaction with Dollar Savings Direct‘s rate. For some time (I first mentioned Dollar Savings Direct in August 2008), DSD seemed to be unbeatable. Even though, they recently cut their rate to 3.50% from 4.00%, it’s still better than what you can get from most online banks.

Well, looks like DSD started to do what everybody else has done: Cut interest rate. I just got a word that DSD is again reducing its rate to 3.02% APY, the second time in less than a month. I am wondering if this is another bait and switch tactic, similar to the one we saw with Zecco’s new pricing policy. For Zecco,  it happened quite slowly. In the case of DSD, it’s rather fast. For latest interest rates, check out the Online Savings Account Interest Rates History page.

Finally, have you been waiting for the all digital, high-definition television? After watching some programs on hi-def, I find myself can’t take the poor quality analog signal any more. Yes, I have been waiting for the DTV conversion. However, just when the switch is about to happen (scheduled on February 17, 2009), it is delayed, for another four month till June.

The Congress today approved legislation to delay the switch to June 12, citing concerns that “20 million mostly poor, elderly and rural households were not ready for the congressionally mandated switch.” Hasn’t the switch been approved for years? People have more than enough time to get themselves ready for the switch. And if we are talking about 20 million people, I wonder how much that 4-month delay will help if they have already been given four years to prepare.

Speaking of stimulating the economy, I feel that forcing everybody to buy either a hi-def TV or converter box can do something good for the economy right now.

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