Forgiven loan deficiencies become taxable again in 2014

February 28, 2014

My home was foreclosed on in 2013. I received a 1099-A with the fair market value listed as $105,000. My local county tax Web site records show the foreclosure sale at $139,753. These are very different numbers to use when filing taxes for 2013. I am not sure what to do.

Form 1099-A is the form the bank uses to report to you and the IRS certain information relating to your foreclosure. The important information is the amount of the debt you owed and the fair market value of the home.

This form would be used by you to determine any phantom income tax you might owe. That is to say, when you lost the property and your lender forgave your debt, the difference between the value of the home and the amount of the loan that was forgiven (where the debt is higher) would be considered income to you.

If your home was your primary residence, and you went into foreclosure before the end of 2013, you won’t have to worry about paying tax on this phantom income. Fortunately for you, you won’t have to declare the release of indebtedness as income. Unfortunately for others now going through what you went through in 2013, the law giving you the benefit lapsed on Jan. 1, and they may have to pay federal income taxes on that type of income.

Consider this: If your lender lists the fair market value of your primary residence as $105,000 and the foreclosure sale reflected the amount owed to the lender on the loan at $139,753, the deficiency or difference is $24,753. That deficiency would be considered income to you under normal circumstances, as well as if this property was your second home or an investment property.

For homes that went into foreclosure (or were subject to a short sale) in 2013, borrowers needn’t worry about taxes on the forgiven deficiency if this home was a primary residence. If the home in question wasn’t your primary residence, the 1099-A form will indicate the amount of the debt you owe and the difference between those numbers will be income to you and increase your tax bill to the IRS. You’ll have to talk to the person who helps you with your taxes to see if there are other exceptions you may use to avoid paying tax on that money.

But based on your letter, you probably are fine and don’t need to do anything other than give the form to your tax preparer and tell him you lost your primary residence in foreclosure to your lender.

Ilyce R. Glink ’s latest book is “Buy, Close, Move In! Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate lawyer. If you have questions, you can call Glink’s radio show (800-972-8255) any Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Contact Glink and Tamkin through the Web site www.thinkglink.com.

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