Homeowners may be hit with a massive Tax Bills if extension is not granted by Congress.

Homeowners may be hit with a massive Tax Bills if extension is not granted by Congress.

Congress has left unrenewed The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 created to help distressed homeowners; that were faced with taxes after a Principal reduction. Under current federal Pay-Estimated-Taxestax law, when the homeowners accept reductions in what they owe, the amount forgiven by the bank gets reported to the IRS, and the owner is hit with taxes as  if it were ordinary income.

Without Congressional action to renew the breaks, those whom banks allowed to sell their homes for less than the amount of their mortgage would have to pay taxes on the forgiven mortgage debt as if it were income, and it will hit hard on homeowners with a massive tax bills. This Congressional inaction could add $75K  in phantom income.

RealtyTrac estimates that in the first three-quarters of 2014, there have been more than 170,000 short sales representing a mortgage debt forgiveness of $8.1 billion total. The average short sale has a mortgage forgiveness of about $75,000, which if the tax break expires would be counted as income.

If Congress does not extend the law retroactively thousands of underwater homeowners could be hit with tax burdens that may not be able to handle.

 

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No One Should Pay Taxes on Phantom Income

After announcing the details of the U.S. Department of Justice’s settlement with Bank of AmMortgage-Forgiveness-Debt-Relief-Acterica, which includes $7 billion in relief to consumers  U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder lamented Congressional inaction to extend the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act.

For homeowners meant to be helped by the settlement funds will instead be penalized on their income taxes.  Holder called on Congress  to do the right thing for financially distressed American families who lost homes to foreclosure or short sales this year.

The tax relief expired on December 31 last year,  and unless Congress acts to extend it, every person who has already sold or plans to sell a home in a short sale in 2014, will pay taxes on nonexistent mortgage debt, which is money many don’t have. Taxing forgiven mortgage debt as income is an unfair practice that also incentivizes defaults and foreclosures, which could torpedo the housing recovery.