Details on HUD Emergency Homeowners Loan Program

October 14, 2010


On October 5, 2010, HUD released details about the $1 Billion Emergency Homeowners Loan Program (EHLP) authorized by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

EHLP will offer declining balance, deferred payment “bridge loan” (non-recourse, subordinate loans with 0% interest rate) for up to $50,000 to assist eligible homeowners with payments of arrearages, including delinquent taxes and insurance plus up to 24 months of monthly payments on their mortgage principal, interest, mortgage insurance premiums, taxes, and hazard insurance.

Borrowers living in the following jurisdictions are eligible to receive funds through the EHLP:

TX Texas $ 135,418,959
NY New York $ 111,649,112
PA Pennsylvania $ 105,804,905
MA Massachusetts $  61,036,001
WA Washington $  56,272,599
MN Minnesota $  55,848,137
WI Wisconsin $   51,540,638
MO Missouri $   49,001,729
VA Virginia $   46,627,889
CO Colorado $   41,286,747
MD Maryland $   39,962,270
CT Connecticut $   32,946,864
KS Kansas $   17,748,782
AR Arkansas $   17,736,991
IA Iowa $   17,379,343
LA Louisiana $   16,691,558
UT Utah $   16,577,582
OK Oklahoma $   15,575,381
PR Puerto Rico $   14,714,668
ID Idaho $   13,284,075
NH New Hampshire $   12,655,243
NM New Mexico $   10,725,515
ME Maine $   10,379,657
WV West Virginia $     8,339,884
NE Nebraska $     8,304,512
HI Hawaii $     6,292,250
DE Delaware $     6,048,577
MT Montana $     5,710,580
VT Vermont $     4,830,215
AK Alaska $     3,890,898
WY Wyoming $     2,346,329
SD South Dakota $     2,051,563
ND North Dakota $     1,320,547
Total: $ 1,000,000,000

Program Administration

Delegated Approach: Borrowers who are listed in one of the above 32 states or Puerto Rico will meet with non-profit housing counselors who are part of the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program administered by NeighborWorks® America to receive funding.

The non-profit housing counselors will provide intake and outreach services including:

  • (i) developing and disseminating program marketing materials, (ii) providing an overview of the program and eligibility requirements, (iii) conducting initial eligibility screening (including verifying income), (iv) counseling  potential applicants, providing information concerning available employment and training resources,  (v) collecting and assembling homeowner documentation, (vi) submitting homeowner application, and (vii) providing transition counseling to explore with the homeowner other loss mitigation options, including loan modification, short sale, deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, or traditional sale of home.
  • The counselors shall also be encouraged to conduct outreach to entities in local communities to provide information on assistance available to unemployed homeowners through this program and shall publicize the list of entities approved to assist potential applicants with applying to the program

State Law Approach: Borrowers or state HFAs that operate loan assistance programs that are determined by HUD to be substantially similar to the EHRF program will receive allocations to fund emergency loans for borrowers in the states below:

Alabama $60,672,471
California $476,257,070
Florida $238,864,755
Georgia $126,650,987
Illinois $166,352,726
Indiana $82,762,859
Kentucky $55,588,050
Michigan $128,461,559
Mississippi $38,036,950
Nevada $34,056,581
New Jersey $112,200,638
North Carolina $120,874,221
Ohio $148,728,864
Oregon $49,294,215
Rhode Island $13,570,770
South Carolina $58,772,347
Tennessee $81,128,260
Washington, DC $7,726,678

Allocation of Program Funds

Recipient Geography: HUD will assist borrowers living in Puerto Rico and the 32 states otherwise not funded by Treasury’s Innovation Fund for Hardest Hit Housing Markets (Hardest Hit Fund) program.

Allocation Amount: The total amount reserved will be based on the state’s approximate share of unemployed homeowners with a mortgage relative to all unemployed homeowners with a mortgage

Targeting Funds to Local Geographies: HUD will provide information that identifies pockets within each of the designated states that have suffered the most from recent spikes in unemployment and/or mortgage delinquencies.  HUD will encourage the use of program dollars in these hardest-hit areas.

Homeowner Eligibility and Program Operation

Income Thresholds: Has a total pre-event household income equal to, or less than, 120% of the Area Median Income (AMI), which includes wage, salary, and self-employed earnings and income.

Significant Income Reduction: Has a current gross income (income before taxes) that is at least 15% lower than the pre-event income.

  • “Pre-event income”: the income prior to the onset of unemployment, underemployment, or medical emergency
  • “Current income”: the income at the time of program application, as well as income during the period that the homeowner continues to receive assistance from the fund

Employment type: Both wage and salary workers and self-employed individuals are eligible.

Delinquency and Likelihood of Foreclosure: Must be at least 3 months delinquent on payments and have received notification of an intention to foreclose.  This requirement can be documented by any written communication from the mortgagee to the homeowner indicating at least 3 months of missed payments and the mortgagee’s intent to foreclose.  In addition, the homeowner can self-certify that there is a likelihood of initiation of foreclosure on the part of their mortgagee due to the homeowner being at least 3 months delinquent in their monthly payment.

Ability to Resume Repayment: Has a reasonable likelihood of being able to resume repayment of the first mortgage obligations within 2 years, and meet other housing expenses and debt obligations when the household regains full employment, as determined by:

Back-end DTI ratio:

Total Monthly Debt Expenses ÷ Total Gross Monthly Income

  • Total monthly debt expenses = mortgage principal, interest, taxes, insurance, & revolving and fixed installment debt

***Note: For this calculation, gross income will be measured at the “pre-event” level***

Principal Residence: Must reside in the mortgaged property and be your  principal residence.  The mortgaged property must also be a single family residence (1 – 4 unit structure or condominium unit).

Creation of HUD Note:  After the first assistance payment is made on behalf of the homeowner, the fiscal agent will create an open-ended “HUD note” and a mortgage to be  in the name of the Secretary HUD of sufficient size to accommodate the expected amount of assistance to be provided to homeowner.

Ongoing Qualification of Homeowner

Termination of Monthly Assistance: Assistance is terminated and the homeowner resumes full responsibility for meeting the first lien mortgage payments in the event of any of the following circumstances:

  • The maximum loan ($50,000) amount has been reached;
  • The homeowner fails to report changes in unemployment status or income;
  • The homeowner’s income regains 85% or more of its pre-event level;
  • The homeowner no longer resides in, sells, or refinances the debt on the mortgaged property; or
  • The homeowner defaults on their portion of the current first lien mortgage loan payments

Income re-evaluation: After initial income verification at application intake, the homeowner shall be required to notify the fiscal agent of any changes in the household income and/or employment status at any point throughout the entire period of assistance

Forms of Assistance

Use of Funds for Arrearages: On behalf of the homeowner, the fiscal agent shall use loan funds to pay 100% of arrears (mortgage principal, interest, mortgage insurance premiums, taxes, hazard insurance, and ground rent, if any)

Homeowner Payments: Homeowner contribution to monthly payment on first mortgage will be set at 31% of gross income at the time of application, but in no instance will it be less than $25 per month

Use of Funds for Continuing Mortgage Assistance: The fiscal agent will make monthly mortgage payments to the servicer of the first lien mortgage in excess of the payments made by the homeowner

Duration of Assistance: If at any time the household’s gross income increases to 85% or more of its pre-event level, assistance will be phased out by the fiscal agent over a 2 month period.  In any event, assistance with monthly payments may not continue beyond 24 months

Repayment Terms

Transition Counseling:   The designated counseling agent shall contact each homeowner that is approaching the last months of program eligibility and remains un/underemployed (3-6 months before the assistance ends) and require the homeowner  to meet with a HUD approved counseling agent to explore other loss mitigation options, including loan modification, short sales, deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, or traditional sale of home

Repayment of HUD Note: Following the last payment on behalf of the homeowner, the fiscal agent will process the homeowner’s “HUD Note” and record a mortgage with a specific loan balance.  The note and mortgage will be in the form of a 5 year declining balance, 0% interest, non-recourse loan, and the mortgage shall be in the form of a secured junior lien on the property

Terms for Declining Balance Feature:  No payment is due on the note during the 5 year term so long as the assisted household maintains the property as principal residence and remains current in his or her monthly payments on the first mortgage loan.  If the homeowner meets these two conditions, the balance due shall decline by 20% annually, until the note is extinguished and the junior loan is terminated

Events Triggering Note Repayment: The homeowner will be responsible for repayment of the applicable balance of the HUD note to the fiscal agent or its successor,  if, at any time during the 5 year repayment period, any of the following events occur:

  • The homeowner no longer resides in the mortgaged property as a principal residence, but maintains ownership;
  • The homeowner defaults on its portion of  the current mortgage; or
  • The homeowner receives net proceeds from selling or refinancing debt on the home.

***Note: Net proceeds — after paying outstanding applicable brokers fees, first balances (and second lien balances, as applicable), and an allowance of $2,000 to the homeowner for relocation expenses when the home is sold — will go towards paying down the HUD note.  In the event that proceeds of a sale or loan refinance are not sufficient to repay the entire HUD note, the remaining applicable balance of the HUD note shall be considered to have been met, and the lien against the property shall be released***

Provisions for Underwater Homeowners: At all stages of the program, “underwater” homeowners will be encouraged to explore participation in short sale or short refinancing programs offered by their servicer and/or the federal government (i.e. Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives), which will not trigger repayment of the HUD note

  • Underwater homeowners = homeowners with mortgage debt in excess of the market value of their home

Program Start Date

HUD intends for EHLP to begin taking applications by the end of 2010


Fannie Mae Launches Distressed Borrower Education Site

August 9, 2010

 

Fannie Mae launches a borrower-facing outreach site designed to educate distressed homeowners on potential retention strategies and foreclosure alternatives.

The online education resource — available in both English and Spanish — offers calculators to demonstrate to borrowers the mechanics of refinance, repayment, forbearance, and modification options if the borrowers would like to keep their home. In addition, it covers information on Fannie’s Deed-For-Lease program, which allows borrowers to become renters in the same property after pursing deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.

For borrowers who would like to leave their home, the online education resource offers possible options such as, a short sale and deed-in-lieu of foreclosure when you can no longer stay in your home but want to avoid foreclosure.

For borrowers who aren’t sure what the best option is for them, the Options Finder can assist you. By answering some questions, the Options Finder determines which option may be right based on your current situation.

When you need additional assistance, the Resources section offers the following and much more:

Fannie Mae Resources

Review what Fannie Mae is doing to assist homeowners and how they can help you.

Contact your Mortgage Company

Find and contact your mortgage company to discuss your situation.

Helpful Forms

Download forms to help you prepare for (and keep track of) working with your mortgage company or a housing counselor.

Calculators

Use the calculators to determine which scenario fits your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Search for helpful answers to some of the most common questions regarding your options.

Take Action – What You Should Do Next

Once you ‘ve learned about options that may be available for your situation, it’s time to take action.

Step 1: Research

Be sure to bookmark the page and print the information on the option(s) that applies best to your situation. You will want to refer to this information when speaking with your mortgage company.

Step 2: Gather

Gather the information shown below. You’ll need this information handy so you can refer to it during your discussion with your mortgage company. Use the Financial Checklist to help get organized and prepared.

  • Your mortgage(s): Loan number, past due notices, monthly statement, etc. for your first mortgage and second mortgage or other liens (if applicable).
  • Your other debts: Copies of bills and monthly statements for all other debts such as credit cards, personal loans, auto loans, utilities, etc.
  • Your income: Paystubs, unemployment benefits letter, alimony, child support, etc. for all borrowers on the mortgage.
  • Your hardship: Explain your situation and any hardship that has affected your income or ability to make your payments, etc.

Step 3: Contact

Contact your mortgage company and ask them about the options that are available for your specific situation. Also ask for the name and/or employee number of the mortgage specialist who is helping you and be sure to give them your up-to-date contact information. Use the Contact Log to keep track of your conversations and follow-up items.

Step 4: Discuss

Make sure you are ready to discuss everything about your current situation—the more the mortgage company understands and the more accurate the information, the more they can help you find the right option.

Step 5: Confirm

Ask them to confirm your current situation to be certain there are no other issues. Make sure you understand the next steps involved and if there is anything you will need to complete for the specific option.


HAMP 2nd Lien Modification Program (2MP)

June 16, 2010

 

***UPDATE:  Click HERE to view a 30-minute self-guided tutorial that provides an overview of the Second Lien Modification Program (2MP) for servicers of non-Government Sponsored Entities (GSE) loans.***

Note: If you are having a problem accessing the tutorial, email me at lauren@lossmitigationmasters.com

Many homeowners may be struggling to make their monthly mortgage payments because they have a second lien.  Even when a first mortgage payment is affordable, the addition of a second lien can sometimes increase monthly payments beyond affordable levels.  Second liens often complicate or prevent modification or refinancing of a first mortgage.

The 2nd Lien Modification Program (2MP) offers homeowners a way to lower payments on their second mortgage.  2MP offers homeowners, their mortgage servicers, and investors an incentive for modifying a second lien.  Servicers and investors may also receive an incentive for extinguishing a second lien, forgiving all of the debt a homeowner owes.

Homeowners must provide consent to share their first lien mortgage modification information with their second lien mortgage servicer, if they are different. Since 2MP is meant to be complementary to the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), a homeowner must have their first lien modified through HAMP before the second lien can be modified under 2MP.

Under 2MP, with their investor’s guidance, a mortgage servicer may:

  • Reduce the interest rate to 1% for second liens that pay both principal and interest (amortizing)
  • Reduce the interest rate to 1% amortizing or 2% interest-only for interest-only second liens
  • Extend the term of the second lien to 40 years
  • If the principal was deferred (through forbearance) or forgiven on the first lien, a servicer must forbear the same proportion on the second lien; although a servicer may, in its discretion, forgive any portion or all of the second lien and receive incentives for doing so

A second lien is eligible for 2MP if:

  • the corresponding first lien has been modified under the Obama Administration’s HAMP and the second lien servicer is participating
  • it was originated on or before January 1, 2009
  • it does not have an unpaid principal balance (at consideration for the modification) of less than $5,000 or a pre-modification scheduled monthly payment of less than $100
  • it has not yet been modified under 2MP
  • it is not subordinate to a second lien or is not a home equity loan in first lien position
  • it is not a second lien on which no interest is charged and no payments are due until the first lien is paid in full
  • the second lien servicer is in possession of a fully executed 2MP modification agreement or trial period plan by December 31, 2012; or the second lien is not insured, guaranteed, or held by a Federal government agency (e.g. FHA, HUD, VA, and Rural Development)

Examples

Family A: Amortizing Second Mortgage

In 2006: Family A took out a 30-year closed-end second mortgage with a balance of $45,000 and an interest rate of 8.6%.

Today: Family A has an unpaid balance of almost $44,000 on their second mortgage.

Under the 2MP: The interest rate on Family A’s second mortgage will be reduced to 1% for 5 years. This will reduce their annual payments by over $2,300.

After those five years, Family A’s mortgage payment will rise again but to a more moderate level.

                                                 Existing Mortgage Loan Modification
Balance $43,942 $43,942
Remaining Years 27 27
Interest Rate 8.6% 1.0%
Monthly Payment $349.48 $154.81
Savings $195 per month, $2,336 per year for five years

Family B: Interest-Only Second Mortgage

In 2006: Family B took out an interest-only second mortgage with a balance of $60,000, an interest rate of 4.4%, and a term of 15 years.

Today: Family B has $60,000 remaining on their interest-only second mortgage because none of the principal was paid down.

Under the 2MP: The interest rate on Family B’s interest-only second mortgage will be reduced to 2% for 5 years. This will reduce their annual interest payments by $1,440.

After those five years, Family B’s mortgage payment will adjust back up and the mortgage will amortize over a term equal to the longer of (i) the remaining term of the family’s modified first mortgage (e.g. 27 years if the first mortgage had a 30 year term at origination and was three years old at the time of modification) or (ii) the originally scheduled amortization term of the second mortgage.

                                                Existing Mortgage Loan Modification
Balance $60,000 $60,000
Remaining Years 12 27 (term reset to the remaining term of the modified first loan)
Interest Rate 4.4% 2.0%
Monthly Interest Payments $220 $100
Savings $120 per month, $1,440 per year for five years

List of Participating Servicers

  • Bank of America (including Countrywide)
  • Citi Mortgage, Inc.
  • Chase (including EMC and WaMu)
  • Wells Fargo (including Wachovia)
  • BayView Loan Servicing, LLC
  • Servis One dba BSI Financial Services
  • iServe Servicing, Inc.

More servicers will be added in the near future as they join the program.

For more information, contact your mortgage servicer.


Preserving Homeownership and Savings Education Strategy (PHASES) program

July 4, 2009

MMI

Money Management International (MMI), the nation’s largest nonprofit credit and debt counseling and education agency, today announced the official launch of their foreclosure prevention program, which has grown from a successful pilot program started in July 2007. With receipt of its second $1 million grant from HSBC-North America, MMI is able to expand its Preserving Homeownership and Savings Education Strategy (PHASES) program.

Utilizing the HSBC funds, the PHASES program provides grants for up to $7,500—an increase from from $5,000 during the pilot phase—to qualified homeowners who are striving to recover from a temporary financial setback. As part of the program, the PHASES team provides one-on-one financial counseling sessions to help keep families in their homes and effectively manage their personal finances.

During the pilot phase of the program, MMI and HSBC helped hundreds of homeowners become current on outstanding mortgage payments and have provided vital financial planning skills to keep consumers on the road to financial stability. The pilot program’s success is evidenced by its receipt of the NeighborWorks America’s 2008 Innovations in Homeownership Contest, for its innovative post-purchase strategy for consumers.

“HSBC is delighted to continue this partnership with MMI to provide the resources families need to keep their homes, and feel more confident about their future path, ” said Tom Detelich, president, Consumer and Mortgage Lending for HSBC Finance Corporation. “We are committed to working with MMI and other top national and local community organizations to provide practical tools to help families make an immediate difference and help plan for the future.”

MMI President and CEO Ivan Hand added, “In its pilot phase, the MMI PHASES program helped more than 200 consumers keep their homes and build stronger financial futures. With HSBC’s support, and the work of our housing counselors, the program was a great success and we’re glad to announce our expanded support for American homeowners.”


The PHASES program is currently available to homeowners in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. To learn more about the MMI PHASES program, call 888-589-6959 or visit www.MMIPHASES.com.


About Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI) is a national HUD-approved housing counseling agency and nonprofit credit and debt counseling firm. MMI has been helping consumers trim their expenses, develop a spending plan, and repay debts since 1958. Counseling is available by appointment in branch offices and 24/7 by telephone and Internet. Services are available in English or Spanish.



Understanding the Terms Used in Foreclosure

May 1, 2009

 

If you are working with your lender to keep your home, known as retention, there are several options:

  • Reinstatement: Your lender may agree to let you pay the total amount you are behind, in a lump sum payment and by a specific date. This is often combined with forbearance when you can show that funds from a bonus, tax refund, or other source will become available at a specific time in the future. Be aware that there may be late fees and other costs associated with a reinstatement plan.
  • Forbearance: Your lender may offer a temporary reduction or suspension of your mortgage payments while you get back on your feet. Forbearance is often combined with a reinstatement or a repayment plan to pay off the missed or reduced mortgage payments.
  • Repayment Plan: This is an agreement that gives you a fixed amount of time to repay the amount you are behind by combining a portion of what is past due with your regular monthly payment. At the end of the repayment period you have gradually paid back the amount of your mortgage that was delinquent.
  • Loan Modification: This is a written agreement between you and your mortgage company that permanently changes one or more of the original terms of your note to make the payments more affordable.

If you and your lender agree that you cannot keep your home, there are a number of liquidation terms you should understand:

  • Short Sale: Nothing more than when a lender is willing to accept less than what is owed on outstanding debts against real property. A short sale is a way for a homeowner to avoid foreclosure and still be able to pay off the bank from acceptance or a settlement agreement.
  • Deed-in-lieu of Foreclosure: A cancellation of your mortgage if you voluntarily transfer title of your property to your mortgage company. Usually, you must try to sell your home for its fair market value (FMV) for at least 90 days before a mortgage company will consider this option. A deed-in-lieu of foreclosure may not be an option if there are other liens on the property, such as second mortgages, judgments from creditors, or tax liens.
  • Assumption: An assumption permits a qualified buyer to take over your mortgage debt and make the mortgage payments, even if the mortgage is non-assumable. As a result, you may be able to sell your property and avoid foreclosure.

Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act FAQs

January 18, 2009

faqs

Per the IRS, if you owe a debt to somone else and they cancel or forgive your debt, the cancelled amount may be taxable.

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 generally allows taxpayers to exclude income from the discharge of debt on their principal residence. Debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as, debt forgiven, in connection with a foreclosure, qualifies for the relief.

This provision applies to debt forgiven in calender years 2007 – 2012. Up to $2 million of forgiven debt is eligible for this exclusion ($1 million if married filing separately). This exclusion does not apply if the discharge is due to services performed by the lender or any other reason not directly related to a decline in the home’s value or the taxpayer’s financial condition.

More information, including detailed examples can be found in Publication 4681, Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions, and Abandonments. Also see IRS news release IR-2008-17.

Disclaimer: This article is adapted from IRS.gov. We do not own this information. It is made available freely to the public. It is recommended that you consult a tax attorney or tax accountant for tax advice.

The following are the most frequently asked questions and answers about the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act and debt cancellation:

What is cancellation of debt?

If you borrow money from a commercial lender and the lender later cancels or forgives the debt, you may to include the cancelled amount in income for tax purposes, depending on the circumstances. When you borrowed money you were not required to include the loan proceeds in income because you had an obligation to repay the lender. When that obligation is subsequently forgiven, the amount you received as loan proceeds is normally reportable as income because you no longer have an obligation to repay the lender. The lender is usually required to report the amount of canceled debt to you and the IRS on a Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt.

Here’s a very simplified example: You borrow $100,000 and default on the loan after paying back $20,000. If the lender is unable to collect the remaining debt from you, there is a cancellation of debt of $80,000, which is generally taxable income to you.

Is cancellation of debt income always taxable?

Not always. There are some exceptions. The most common situations when cancellation of debt income is not taxable income involve:

  • Qualified principal residence: This is an exception created by the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 and applies to most homeowners.
  • Bankruptcy: Debts discharged through bankruptcy are not considered taxable income.
  • Insolvency: If you are insolvent when the debt is cancelled, some or all of the cancelled debt  may not be taxable income to you. You are insolvent when your total debts are more than the fair market value of your total assets.
  • Certain farm debts: If you incurred the debt directly in operation of a farm, more than half your income from the prior three years was farming, and the loan owed to a person or agency regularly engaged in lending, your cancelled debt is generally not considered taxable income.
  • Non-recourse loans: A non-recourse loan is a loan for which the lenders only remedy in case of default is to repossess the property being financed or used as collateral. That is, the lender cannot pursue you personally in case of default. Forgiveness of a non-recourse loan resulting from a foreclosure does not result in cancellation of debt income. However, it may result in other tax consequences.

These exceptions are discussed in detail in Publication 4681.

What is the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007?

 The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 was enacted on Dec. 20, 2007 (see news release IR-2008-17). Generally, the Act allows exclusion of income realized as a result of modification of the terms of the mortgage, or foreclosure on your principal residence.

What does exclusion of income mean?

Normally, debt that is forgiven or cancelled by a lender must be included as income on your tax return and is taxable. But the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act allows you to exclude certain cancelled debt on your principal residence from income. Debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as, mortgage debt forgiven in connection with a foreclosure, qualifies for relief.

Does the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act apply to all debt incurred to refinance a home?

Debt used to refinance your home qualifies for this exclusion, but only to the extent that the principal balance of the old mortgage, immediately before the refinancing, would have qualified. For more information, including an example, see Publication 4681.

How long is this special relief in effect?

It applies to qualified principal residence indebtedness forgiven in calendar years 2007- 2012.

Is there a limit on the amount of forgiven qualified principal residence indebtedness that can be excluded from income?

There is no dollar amount if the principal balance of the loan was less than $2 million ($1 million if married filing separately for the tax year) at the time the loan was forgiven. If the balance was greater, see the instructions to Form 982 and the detailed example in Publication 4681.

If the forgiven debt is excluded from income, do I have to report it on my tax return?

Yes. The amount of debt forgiven must be reported on Form 982 and this form must be attached to your tax return.

Do I have to complete the entire Form 982?

No. Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness (and Section 1082 Adjustment), is used for other purposes in addition to reporting the exclusion of forgiveness of qualified principal residence indebtedness. If you are using the form only to report the exclusion of forgiveness of qualified principal residence indebtedness as the result of foreclosure on your principal residence, you only need to complete lines 1e and 2. If you kept ownership of your home and modification of the terms of your mortgage resulted in the forgiveness of qualified principal residence indebtedness, complete lines 1e, 2, and 10b. Attach Form 982 to your tax return.

Where can I get this form?

You can download and save the form to your computer, use your tax-preparation software, or use your tax accountant.

How do I know out how much debt was forgiven?

Your lender should send a Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, by February 2, 2009. The amount of debt forgiven or cancelled will be shown in box 2. If this debt is all qualified principal residence indebtedness, the amount shown in box 2 will generally be the amount that you enter on lines 2 and 10b, if applicable, on Form 982.

Can I exclude debt forgiven on my second home?

Not under this provision. Only cancelled debt used to buy, build, or improve your principal residence or refinance debt incurred for those purposes qualifies for this exclusion. See Publication 4681 for further details.

If part of the forgiven debt doesn’t qualify for exclusion from income under this provision, is it possible that it may qualify for exclusion under a different provision?

Yes. The forgiven debt may qualify under the insolvency exclusion. Normally, you are not actually required to include the forgiven debts in income to the extent that you are insolvent. You are insolvent when your total liabilties exceed your total assets. The forgiven debt may also qualify for exclusion if the debt was discharged in a Title 11 bankruptcy proceeding or if the debt is qualified farm indebtedness or qualified real property business indebtedness. If you believe you qualify for any of these exceptions, see the instructions for Form 982. Publication 4681 discusses each of these exceptions and includes examples.

I lost money on the foreclosure of my home. Can I claim a loss on my tax return?

No. Losses from sale or foreclosure of personal property are not deductible.

If I sold my home at a loss and the remaining loan is forgiven, does this constitute a cancellation of debt?

Yes. To the extent that a loan from a lender is not fully satisfied and a lender cancels the unsatisfied debt, you have cancellation of indebtedness income. If the amount forgiven or canceled is $600 or more, the lender must generally issue Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, showing the amount of debt canceled. However, you may be able to exclude part or all of this income if the debt was qualified principal residence indebtedness, you were insolvent immediately before the discharge, or if the debt was cancelled in a Title 11 bankruptcy case. An exclusion is also available for the cancellation of certain non-business debts of a qualified individual as a result of a disaster in a Midwestern disaster area. See Form 982 for details.

If the remaining balance owed on my mortgage loan that I was personally liable for was cancelled after my foreclosure, may I still exclude the cancelled debt from income under the qualified principal residence exclusion, even though I no longer own my residence?

Yes, as long as the cancelled debt was qualified principal residence indebtedness. See Example 2 on page 13 of Publication 4681, Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossession, and Abandonments.

Will I receive notification of cancellation of debt from my lender?

Yes. Lenders are required to send Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt, when they cancel any debt of $600 or more. The amount cancelled will be in box 2 of the form.

What if I disagree with the amount in box 2?

Contact your lender to work out any discrepancies and have the lender issue a corrected Form 1099-C.

How do I report the forgiveness of debt that is excluded from gross income?

  1. Check the appropriate box under line 1 on Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness (and Section 1082, Basis Adjustment) to indicate the type of discharge of indebtedness and enter the amount of the discharged debt excluded from gross income on line 2. Any remaining cancelled debt must be included as income on your tax return.
  2. File Form 982 with your tax return.

How do I know if I was insolvent?

You are insolvent when you total debts exceed the fair market value of all your assets. Assets include everything you own (e.g. car, house, condo, furniture, life insurance policies, stocks and other investments, pension or other retirement accounts).

How should I report the information and items needed to prove insolvency?

Use Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness (and Section 1082, Basis Adjustment) to exclude cancelled debt from income to the extent you were insolvent immediately before cancellation. You were insolvent to the extent that your total liabilities exceeded the fair market value of your assets immediately before the cancellation.

To claim this exclusion, you must attach Form 982 to your income tax return. Check box 1b on Form 982, and, on line 2, include the smaller of the amount of the debt cancelled or the amount by which you were insolvent immediately prior to the cancellation. You must also reduce your tax attributes in Part II of Form 982.

Are there any publications I can read for more information?

Yes,

  1. Publication 4681, Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions, and Abandonments (for Individuals) is new and addresses in a single document the tax consequences of cancellation of debt issues.
  2. See the IRS news release IR-2008-17 with additional questions and answers on IRS.gov

Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act Reduces Negative Tax Consequences

January 18, 2009

 Home Under Water

Per IRS new release IR-2008-17, homeowners whose mortgage debt was partly or entirely forgiven during calendar years 2007 – 2012 may be able to claim special tax relief by filling out newly-revised Form 982 and attaching it to their federal income tax return, according to the IRS.

Normally, debt forgiveness results in taxable income. But under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, enacted Dec. 20, 2007, taxpayers may exclude debt forgiven on their principal residence if the balance of their loan was less than $2 million. The limit is $1 million for a married person filing a separate return. Details are on Form 982 and its instructions are available now on the IRS website.

 

“The new law contains important provisions for struggling homeowners,” said Acting IRS Commissioner Linda Stiff. “We urge people with mortgage problems to take full advantage of the valuable tax relief available.”

 

Legislation enacted in Oct. 2008 extended this relief through 2012. Thus this relief now applies to debt forgiven in calendar years 2007 – 2012. Debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in connection with a foreclosure, may qualify for this relief. In most cases, eligible homeowners only need to fill out a few lines on Form 982 (specifically, lines 1e, 2 and 10b).

 

The debt must have been used to buy, build or substantially improve the taxpayer’s principal residence and must have been secured by that residence. Debt used to refinance qualifying debt is also eligible for the exclusion, but only up to the amount of the old mortgage principal, just before the refinancing. 

 

Debt forgiven on second homes, rental property, business property, credit cards or car loans does not qualify for the new tax-relief provision. In some cases, however, other kinds of tax relief, based on insolvency, for example, may be available. See Form 982 for details.

 

Borrowers whose debt is reduced or eliminated receive a year-end statement (Form 1099-C) from their lender. By law, this form must show the amount of debt forgiven and the fair market value of any property given up through foreclosure.

 

The IRS urges borrowers to check the Form 1099-C carefully. Notify the lender immediately if any of the information shown is incorrect. Borrowers should pay particular attention to the amount of debt forgiven (Box 2) and the value listed for their home ( Box 7).

 

We will post frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act  in the next post….


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