If you lost your primary home due to a foreclosure, short sale or debt in lieu of foreclosure, the cancelled (or forgiven) debt, reported on a Form 1099-C, is considered TAXABLE income to you in the year the 1099 is reported. However, if the debt was incurred to purchase your primary home, you can exclude the income (up to $2 million), by filing a Form 982. Please note that this exclusion expires Dec. 31, 2012! If you lost your home, but haven’t yet received a 1099-C, you may want to contact the lending institution to find out when (or if) that will occur. The bank has up to 4 years (in CA) to collect on the debt, so it may not have forgiven it yet.
Here are 10 facts the IRS wants you to know about Mortgage Debt Forgiveness:
1. 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.
2. The limit is $1 million for a married person filing a separate return.
3. You may exclude debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in a foreclosure.
4. To qualify, the debt must have been used to buy, build or substantially improve your principal residence and be secured by that residence.
5. Refinanced debt proceeds used for the purpose of substantially improving your principal residence also qualify for the exclusion.
6. Proceeds of refinanced debt used for other purposes – for example, to pay off credit card debt – do not qualify for the exclusion.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.