Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tax Relief for Mortgage Debt

With all of the “fiscal cliff” talk recently, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what came of it and if the tax revisions/extensions affect you. One benefit is a one year extension of the tax relief for people whose lenders forgave a portion of their mortgage debt (1). If the bill had not passed, mortgage debts forgiven in short sale, loan modification, or foreclosure would be considered taxable income. That means you could be responsible for paying taxes on an already difficult loss. For someone struggling with income loss and losing a home, the last thing they need is to be slapped with a large tax bill.

According to RealtyTrac.com, 1 in every 1,274 homes in Missouri received a foreclosure filing in November, 2012. In Kansas, that number was 1 in every 1,255 homes for November 2012(2). With numbers that high, it’s easy to see just how many people could have been affected had the bill not passed.

This bill now expires on January 1, 2014. Some government programs encouraging loan modifications and short sales expire on that date as well. Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac believes that because there are so many foreclosure listings, there will be a couple of years of short sales to come. He believes that the bill will likely be extended again next year, but there is no guarantee(3).

Recent mortgage settlements have encouraged lenders to work with their customers that are behind. They are being pushed to allow customers to examine alternatives to foreclosure. And, extension of the tax relief bill makes it more appealing to customers as well. However, these options, including loan modification, deed in lieu of foreclosure, and short sale can be complicated, time consuming, and confusing. It’s best to speak to an experienced attorney and real estate agent to figure out which option best suits your situation after speaking to your lender to see what is available.

Charice Holtsclaw, Managing Attorney
Kelley Snyder, Paralegal

1 “Fiscal Cliff Pact Also Aided Troubled Homeowners” The Sacramento Bee. 5 January 2013. http://www.sacbee.com/2013/01/05/5093513/fiscal-cliff-pact-also-aided-troubled.html

2 “Fiscal cliff bill extends tax relief for struggling homeowners facing foreclosure.” OregonLive. 3 January 2013. http://www.oregonlive.com/front-porch/index.ssf/2013/01/fiscal_cliff_bill_extends_tax.html

3 RealtyTrac. http://www.realtytrac.com/trendcenter/ks-trend.html

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