As of January 2016 the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act has been extended through January 1, 2017.
If you are a homeowner whose mortgage debt is partly or entirely forgiven during tax years 2007 through 2016, you may be able to claim special tax relief and exclude the mortgage debt forgiveness from your income. Here are 10 facts the IRS wants you to know about Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act.
- Normally, debt forgiveness results in taxable income. However, under the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act of 2007, you may be able to exclude up to $2 million of debt forgiven on your principal residence.
- The limit is $1 million for a married person filing a separate return.
- You may exclude debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, selling your home as a short sale, as well as mortgage debt forgiveness in a foreclosure.
- To qualify, the debt must have been used to buy, build or substantially improve your principal residence and be secured by that residence.
- Refinanced debt proceeds used for the purpose of substantially improving your principal residence also qualify for the exclusion of the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act.
- Proceeds of refinanced debt used for other purposes – for example, to pay off credit card debt – do not qualify for the exclusion.
- If you qualify, claim the special exclusion by filling our Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness, and attach it to your federal income tax return for the tax year in which the qualified debt was forgiven.
- Debt forgiven on second homes, rental property, business property, credit cards or car loans do not qualify for the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act tax relief provision. In some cases, however, other tax relief provisions – such as insolvency – may be applicable. IRS Form 982 provides more details about these provisions.
- If your debt is reduced or eliminated you normally will receive a year-end statement, Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, from your lender. By law, this form must show the amount of debt forgiven and the fair market value of any property foreclosed.
- Examine the Form 1099-C carefully. Notify the lender immediately if any of the information shown is incorrect. You should pay particular attention to the amount of debt forgiven and the fair market value of any property foreclosed.
For more information about the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Forgiveness Act of 2007, visit IRS.gov. A good resource is IRS Publication 4681, Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions and Abandonments.
You can also use the Interactive Tax Assistant available on the IRS website to determine if the cancellation of debt is taxable. The ITA tool is a tax law resource that takes you through a series of questions and provides you with responses to tax law questions.
Taxpayers may obtain copies of IRS publications and forms either by downloading them IRS.gov or by calling 800-Tax-Form (800-829-3676). Also, it is advisable to consult with a tax attorney and/or accountant regarding any tax related matters.
by Rick Sheppard