If you are a real estate agent working short sales, then you are probably very happy to hear that the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 has been extended another year. This extension comes as part of the vote that passed so that we all do not go over the “fiscal cliff.” This vote will get potential short sale sellers off the fence and excited about the prospect of listing and selling their homes in 2013!
You probably recall that the Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 allows certain taxpayers to exclude income connected with the discharge of debt on a primary residence. This includes debt that has been reduced through the restructuring of a mortgage as well as mortgage debt forgiven in connection with foreclosure, short sale, or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.
According to the IRS (Tax Tip 2011-44), here are 10 facts that the IRS wants folks to know about Mortgage Debt Forgiveness. (Information courtesy of the IRS. Don’t forget to advise sellers to speak with the CPA.)
- Normally, debt forgiveness results in taxable income. However, under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief 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, as well as mortgage debt forgiven 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.
- 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 out 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 does not qualify for the 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 in Box 2 as well as the value listed for your home in Box 7.