Bill would make it easier for Oklahomans to save for home

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahomans could soon get some help as they save to buy a new home.

“I think this is a huge, huge game changer,” said Senator Jason Smalley.

The state senator from Stroud was referring to Senate Bill 961. It would establish a home buyer savings account so potential homeowners could save money tax free.

“We need to promote home ownership and individuals that are able to actually purchase that home and settle down those roots,” Smalley said.

If signed into law, the act would allow a single Oklahoman to set aside $5,000 and a married couple $10,000 and deduct that from their taxable income.

“There is an overwhelming support for the measure so far,” said Josh Cockcroft.

The former state legislator pushed the bill in the House last year, but it was set aside during the budget crunch. Cockcroft now works for the Oklahoma Association of Realtors.

“When you have home ownership in a community, you have individuals that are invested in their community, so it’s an incredibly important tool for the state of Oklahoma,” Cockcroft said.

“This year, there seems to be more of an effort to support these kinds of measures that are going towards Oklahomans,” Smalley said.

Smalley said there has been some discussion in committee to apply it only to first-time home buyer but, the way the bill is currently written, it would apply to any potential buyer.

“We want to make sure that we are taking care of that family of three that becomes that family of five and they want to upgrade, how do we assess their needs and help them out,” Smalley said.

Money set aside could be used for things like down payments, closing costs and escrow payments. If the money was used for something else, the saver would have to pay a penalty.

“We want to make sure that, here in Oklahoma, individuals feel like they can still purchase that home, they are not scraping, they are not going into too much debt,” Smalley said.

The bill has made it through one committee. If it is signed into law, it would take effect in the fall with Oklahomans able to count the saving on the 2020 taxes.

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