Tax Tip: Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007

Tax Cat knows that it’s a hard subject, but if your home has been foreclosed there’s something you should know about changes to the tax laws.

Tax laws consider forgiven debt as income, which can leave those of you with foreclosed homes with some unexpected tax bills this year. Let’s say I loan you a million bazillion dollars. Now I go, “Oh, wait. Never mind. You can keep it.” The IRS considers that income. You would have to pay the taxes on your million bazillion dollars.

The tricky part comes in when I’m not just loaning you a million bazillion dollars. I’m loaning you money to buy an overpriced home that you can’t afford and I can’t sell for as much as you owe me once I take it back from you.

Enter the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007. Bankrate sums it up for us:

Under the Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Act of 2007, some homeowners granted forgiveness of mortgage debt won’t have to pay taxes on that amount. But there are some restrictions:

1. There is a limit on the forgiven debt: up to $2 million or $1 million for a married person filing a separate return.
2. The tax break also has a time limit. It only applies to mortgage debt discharged by a lender in 2007, 2008 or 2009.
3. The loan also must have been taken out to buy or build a primary residence, not a second or vacation home. If debt is forgiven on those additional properties, the owner will owe cancellation of debt income as usual.

This new law comes with a brand new form, Form 982. For those of you who wish to file electronically, make sure to update your tax software and… oh yeah. Since this law is so new you’re going to have to wait until March 3 before the Death Star is fully operational. The IRS won’t be ready to accept electronic returns with Form 982 until that date.

10 Tax Laws You Just Gotta Know [Bankrate]
IRS Form 982 (PDF) [IRS]
March 3: The latest tax-filing deadline [Don’t Mess With Taxes]
(Photo:Chad Beckerman)