Short Sale Blog

Here is the latest short sale news at Seattle Short Sales. We assist hundreds of Seattle area homeowners with short selling their home and avoiding foreclosure.

More Good News For Your Short Sale: Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act Extended to End of 2013

Seattle Short Sales - Monday, January 14, 2013

Good news! There was a lot of worry in the last few months of 2012 by homeowners contemplating a short sale, because the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act (MFDRA) was due to expire on December 31, 2012.

Homeowners who undertake a short sale generally have tens or even hundreds of thousands of mortgage debt forgiven by their lender. While having debt forgiven is a good thing, in some cases that forgiven debt may be taxable as income.

The MFDRA was enacted in 2007 because so many American homeowners were affected by the financial crisis, and were trying to deal with their financial losses through loan modifications or short sales. Most homeowners who are trying to sort out their finances by undertaking a short sale do not have the funds to then pay thousands of dollars of income tax on money that they never actually received. The MFDRA relieves them of that obligation: their forgiven debt is tax-free.

The MFDRA was due to expire at the end of 2012. However, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, passed by Congres on January 1, extends that deadline for a full year. This means that the MFDRA now applies to any mortgage debt that was forgiven between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2013.

You can read in more detail about what the act actually does here: Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007

Seattle Short Sales has the most experienced and most successful real estate short sale specialists working with us. We close, on average, 15% of all short sales per month in King County. In the last 24 months, we have negotiated over 650 short sale approvals, and discounted over $65 million of mortgage debt for distressed homeowners.

A short sale can improve your credit, and help you to avoid foreclosure and get a fresh start. As part of our service, we offer unlimited attorney and CPA consultations.

If you are a homeowner, and would like to learn more about short selling your home, please go to: http://seattleshortsales.com/homeowners/
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Using the IRS Insolvency Clause For Mortgage Debt Relief Forgiveness

Seattle Short Sales - Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Home sellers and real estate agents who are concerned about the upcoming expiry of the federal Mortgage Debt Relief Forgiveness Act still have options for avoiding a tax bill from the IRS, according to Seattle Short Sales, Inc.

With the principal amnesty program set to expire on Dec. 31, 2012, the Bellevue, Wash., team of legal, tax and real estate professionals is assuaging fears that sellers will miss a valuable tax break if their short sales do not close by year end.

“This looming deadline is instigating a surge of short sales,” explains Ross Kilburn, who notes that short sales increased 25 percent nationwide in the first quarter of 2012 over the previous year. “What most homeowners and many brokers do not realize is that the IRS offers several non-expiring exemptions that allow sellers to circumvent the income tax assessed on forgiven debt.”

An estimated 11 million Americans are underwater on their mortgages, carrying nearly $700 billion in negative equity as they try to ride out the recession. With one in every five homes worth less than is owed, the U.S. government passed the Mortgage Debt Relief Forgiveness Act in 2007, and then renewed it in 2009, to help homeowners recover from the economic crisis.

Prior to the Mortgage Debt Relief Forgiveness Act, the IRS taxed most forgiven debt as income. Under the current laws, the Act temporarily suspends this penalty when a lender absolves a customer’s mortgage debt. In order to qualify for the federal relief program, underwater mortgage holders must demonstrate extreme financial hardship, whether from a layoff, retirement or unexpected medical costs. Up to $2 million of debt can be forgiven by lenders.

Although the Mortgage Debt Relief Forgiveness Act expires at the end of this year, many underwater homeowners who short sale their homes will still be able to use the insolvency clause to avoid paying income taxes. In order to avoid paying taxes on discharged debt under the insolvency clause, the total amount owed to all creditors must be greater than the fair market value of all the homeowner’s assets. Liabilities, such as mortgage debt, credit card debt, student loans and vehicle loans, are balanced against assets like the home, vehicles, jewelry, artwork, bank account balances and retirement savings.

If a borrower is insolvent, the discharged debt is not taxable, up to the amount of the insolvency. For example, if a seller has a combined debt of $400,000 and assets totaling $145,000, then up to $255,000 of debt can be forgiven without being taxed. Since any absolved principal above this amount brings the seller back to financial solvency, the balance beyond $255,000 is taxable.

“This overlooked insolvency exemption has the potential to help hundreds of thousands of homeowners across the U.S. who currently don't have access to this important information,” praises Dean Guske, a CPA based in Bellevue. “Kudos to Seattle Short Sales, Inc. for spreading their knowledge widely."

If you are a homeowner, and would like to learn more about short selling your home, please go to: http://seattleshortsales.com/homeowners/

If you are a real estate agent, and would like to learn about our no-fee short sale service, please go to: http://seattleshortsales.com/agents/


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