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The most frequently asked tax questions related to Home Ownership
For Tax Payers
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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 do 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.
For more information about the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, visit http://www.irs.gov. A good resource is IRS Publication 4681, Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions and Abandonments.
This exclusion was scheduled to expire for debt discharged after December 31, 2012. ATRA, extends the exclusion to debt that is discharged before January 1, 2014.
The calculation of the exclusion is basically the number of months you lived in the house divided by 24 times the exclusion.
If married the total un-prorated exclusion is $500,000 if not married the total un-prorated exclusion is $250,000.
Therefore, if you are married and lived in the house for 1 year (12 months) then 12/24 x $500,000 = $250,000 exemption on the sale of your primary residence.