You may have heard of the Internal Revenue Service considers canceled debts or debts discharged to income and that you must report that income on your tax return. You heard wrong, at least to a certain extent. This is not a blanket rule that applies to all debts discharged.
A forgiven or canceled debt is one where the creditor agrees with or is forbidden from pursuing you for the money. You no longer have to pay. These debts are usually not considered as income if that happens in the context of bankruptcy proceedings, but “usually” is the key word here. The rules change if you have forgiven debts outside of bankruptcy, but in some cases, you don’t have to report both of these as income.
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“Taxpayers who file for bankruptcy are generally not required to include canceled debt in their taxable income,” says Anna Marie Falker, a registered agent and tax information analyst at the National Association of Tax Professionals.
This is the case even if you receive a 1099-C form from a lender that has the amount of debt that has been canceled or discharged. Falker advises, “Attach Form 982,” Tax Reduction Attributes By Discharge of Debt (and Section 1082 Basic Adjustment), “to your income tax return. This shows the IRS that the removed quantity is excluded from the income under Code Sec. 108. ” Be sure to confirm the form because the lender is also required to submit a copy of Form 1099-C to the Internal Revenue Service. It would be a flag to raise if you simply do not include the amount on your tax return without supporting statement or documentation.
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Time is everything. You must include the amount of debt listed on Form 1099-C on your tax return if the lender filed with the IRS before you go bankrupt to get the most benefits. It is no longer a debt when this happens. It is now income – you’ve borrowed money that you don’t have to pay back.
Bankruptcy can only cancel debts that exist at the time you file. The debt has disappeared if you have already received a form 1099-C. It has been converted to income, and the bankruptcy does not erase income.
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According to the IRS in Publication 525, “Generally, if a debt you owe is canceled or forgives other than as a gift or bequest, you must include the canceled amount in your income. You have no income from the canceled debt if it is intended as a gift to you. a debt includes any debt for which you are liable or which attaches to the property that you are holding. “
Wait-what is that about a loophole?
Canceled debts are excluded from income if they are made as gifts. This also applies to legacies, for example if a family member forgives a debt due to him in his will.
Other exceptions to the articles on debts Dismissed in Bankruptcy
Debts can also be excluded from your income for tax purposes if you insolvency the total amount of your debts exceeds the total market value of all your assets. This is the case even if you have not yet gone bankrupt to fix the problem.
But here’s another catch: The size of your insolvency must be as large as, or more than, the debt that was canceled. You are fine if your debts exceed the fair market value of your assets with $ 10,000 and a lender forgives $ 10,000 in debts or less. But if the lender cancels a $ 15,000 debt, the difference is becoming taxable income if your bankruptcy is only $ 10,000.
Student loans are sometimes canceled if you finish them with certain employers.
The IRS does not believe this to be income either. If that canceled debt is associated with a foreclosure, you do not have to count this as income either, starting in 2017. The Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act technically expired at the end of 2016, but the 2018 Dual Budget Act extended retroactively by by the end of 2017.
The mortgage had to be on your main residence. According to bankruptcy lawyers, the law allows you to exclude income up to $ 1 million in debt and $ 2 million in this case if you are married and you file a joint return.
How To Debt Discharged Bankruptcy Report If You Need To Conclude The Taxable Income
Enter the amount of the canceled debt on line 21 of your 1040 if you must report it as income. It is “other income” and the 1040 form provides a small area where you can explain the source, which would be “canceled debt”. But do not do this until after you have consulted with a tax adviser about the exact details of your situation. You want to be very sure that you do, indeed, have to report the income to.