Tax Fact 1-The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007

10 Mar Tax Fact 1-The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007

The IRS wants taxpayers to know about the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007. In the waning weeks of 2007, Congress passed and President Bush signed into law this remedial legislation. Initially limited to tax years 2007, 2008 and 2009, the law was intended to prevent debt cancellation tax for unfortunate home owners who lost their home to foreclosure. Congress, as part of the stimulus legislation passed in 2009, extended the life of the statute through tax year 2012. Limitations on this statute and details of debt cancellation tax will be explored in later articles. However, it is important to note that the statute, which amended the tax code, added a specific exemption for home loans and forgiveness of debt up to two million dollars when the taxpayer’s principle residence is involved.

It is important to note this statute only covers the principle residence or main home of the taxpayer. A principle residence can be a house, houseboat, mobile home, co-op apartment or condominium. Any abode that a taxpayer can call home is likely to meet the IRS standards for principal residence if that is where the taxpayer lives most of the time. When it is a close question whether or not an abode is the principal residence of the taxpayer, the IRS will look at factors such as the following:

  1. The taxpayer’s place of employment;
  2. The location of the main home for the taxpayer’s family members;
  3. Taxpayer’s mailing address for bills and correspondence;
  4. Addresses listed in tax returns, drivers license, car registration, voter registration;
  5. The location of banks used by the taxpayer; and,
  6. The location of recreational clubs and religious organizations to which the taxpayer belongs.

The other important issue is the debt must be qualified personal residence debt. To be “qualified” the debt must have been incurred to acquire or substantially improve the taxpayer’s personal residence.

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I was admitted to practice in 1978. I am certified as a Consumer Bankruptcy Specialist by the American Board of Certification. I regularly speak on tax and bankruptcy issues at state, regional and national conferences. Years of experience in practice before the Internal Revenue Service and Oregon Department of Revenue have given me the background to resolve a large variety of consumer tax issues.
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