Tax Consequences of Restructuring Bad Debt

Categories: Bankruptcy Law Overview, Chapter 7, Foreclosure, Taxes & Bankruptcy

The November, 2009 issue of ABA Journal article entitled, The Bad-Debt Blues, explained the need to take federal taxes into consideration when restructuring debt as, “crucial.”  The article provides an excellent overview of the federal tax rules that apply to debt workouts, and focuses on the impact to individual debtors.

The recent media blitz touting the end of the recession is an illusion caused only by government spending.  Bankruptcy filings are still up over last year and climbing to record numbers since the BAPCPA in 2005. Americans continue to struggle with what to do about their debt.

The so-called housing bubble we appear to be experiencing is caused by the fact that banks are holding foreclosed homes in their inventory rather than selling them because putting them on the market will only reduce already depressed housing values.  Similarly, the banks are also refraining from foreclosing on homes and moving toward more workout programs and modifications because they’re starting to realize the error of their greedy ways. 

When faced with the tax consequences of the restructuring of individual consumer debt; either through foreclosure, repossession, or modification; filing bankruptcy provides a safe harbor and important IRS exclusions.  There is another exclusion under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 that applies to Qualified Principal Residence Indebtedness on or after Jan. 1, 2006. 

It is important to remember that most financial transactions have tax consequences and we all know that ignoring the IRS with its hand out is never a good idea.  Consult with your lawyer to fully understand the tax consequences and restructure debt in the way that best minimizes tax liabilities for you. 

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