Among the tax breaks at risk in the negotiations between the White House and Congress to avert the “fiscal cliff” is a measure aimed at helping struggling homeowners.

Since the housing market started to collapse in 2007, banks have been pushed to extend mortgage relief to struggling homeowners. But those households could soon receive an extra tax bill if Congress does not extend a five-year tax break.

The mortgage relief is aimed at some of the hardest hit: Those who are underwater on their mortgages, owing more than their homes are worth.

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