The IRS Extends Time-Frame To Complete Exchanges and Opportunity Zone Rollovers

Last night, the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance to extend the time permitted to complete a like-kind exchange or rollover into an Opportunity fund.  While the actual IRS notice has not been issued yet (I’m guessing it will come out today) and that will contain more specifics, below are highlights of the relief that is being granted to real estate investors by the IRS as a result of COVID-19:

  • 1031 Like-kind exchange – If an investor is in the midst of 1031 exchange and has already sold the property they owned and the 45-day period to identify the replacement property or the 180-day period to close on the replacement property falls between April 1, 2020, and July 15, 2020, the deadline will be extended to July 15, 2020.
  • Opportunity zone – If an investor has sold a capital asset and plans to roll over the gain from it into a Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund and the 180-day deadline to do so falls between April 1, 2020, and July 15, 2020, the deadline to cmplete the investment will be extended to July 15, 2020.

As I mentioned, the IRS will likely issue written guidance today with more details.  When that happens, I’ll update this post with any pertinent information that it contains.

How to Earn Tax-Free Income as a Serial Homebuyer

Thomas J. Lucier - Avoid Bad Realtors
In my opinion, the capital gains tax exclusion that was granted to homeowners under the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, is the single best, wealth-building opportunity, that’s ever been made available to the average American. That’s because, under Section 121, of the Internal Revenue Code, a single homeowner can exclude, up to $250,000, from the sale of their principal residence, from capital gains tax, and a married couple, filing a joint tax return, can exempt up to $500,000. The only requirement is that a homeowner must have owned and occupied their home, for a total of twenty-four out of sixty months, prior to the sale. And best of all, homeowners can use this home sale tax exclusion, every two years, until they depart Planet Earth. Continue reading “How to Earn Tax-Free Income as a Serial Homebuyer

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 – Update

Dennis Norman

UPDATE Jan, 2013 – Congress approved extending the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 through the end of 2013.

I first wrote an article on this topic a little over two years ago as the foreclosure rate was rising and borrowers were concerned about where they stood with the IRS with regard to “mortgage forgiveness”. Well, here we are today with the same issues looming over many people, so I thought I would do an update. Continue reading “The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 – Update

Tax Credits Help Homeowners Winterize Their Homes; IRS says check credit certification first

Dennis Norman St Louis

Time is running out to take advantage of two tax credit programs that are a result of the expanded recovery act: The “Nonbusiness Energy Property Credit” and “Residential Energy Efficient Property Credit” programs both offer homeowners the opportunity to receive tax credits for energy-efficient upgrades, but the programs end this year. Continue reading “Tax Credits Help Homeowners Winterize Their Homes; IRS says check credit certification first

Congress Considering New Tax Burdens on Real Estate

Dennis Norman

As the real estate market and industry continues to struggle to try to pull out of the dumps, another blow could come soon from Congress in the form of new tax burdens on real estate.

Congress is proposing that all owners of rental properties be required to complete and file 1099 forms for all service providers that have performed work on their properties, such as electricians, handymen, landscapers, etc. If passed, this would require all landlords, even the smallest of which, to go through additional expense and burden (or face penalties themselves from the IRS) to comply with this requirement.

The second issue, and perhaps one with a bigger negative impact, is to tax “carried interest” at ordinary income rates instead of the lower, capital gains rate. This would affect landlords and other investment/income property owners when they sell their property and realize the profit from their investment.

The National Association of REALTORS has come out in opposition to these two changes and has summoned their members to contact their Congressmen and Senators and urge them to oppose these two changes, hopefully Congress will listen.

IRS Releases Instructions on how to Claim Homebuyer Tax Credit

Dennis Norman

If you are one of the million-plus homebuyers that was fortunate enough to qualify for the Home Buyer tax credit, read on for information on how to claim your credit.

Today the Internal Revenue Service released a new form that eligible homebuyers must need to use to claim the first-time homebuyer credit this tax season, along with instructions and guidelines for other documentation that must accompany your tax return.

The new form and instructions follow major changes in November to the homebuyer credit by the Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009. The new law extended the credit to a broader range of home purchasers and added new documentation requirements to deter fraud and ensure taxpayers properly claim the credit.

The IRS expects to start processing 2009 tax returns claiming the homebuyer credit in mid-February after it completes the updating and testing of systems to meet the law’s new requirements. The updates allow the IRS to put in place critical systemic checks to deter fraud related to the homebuyer credit.

Some of these early taxpayers claiming the homebuyer credit may see tax refunds take an additional two to three weeks.

In addition to filling out a Form 5405, all eligible homebuyers must include with their 2009 tax returns one of the following documents in order to receive the credit:

  • A copy of the settlement statement showing all parties’ names and signatures, property address, sales price, and date of purchase. Normally, this is the properly executed Form HUD-1, Settlement Statement.
  • For mobile home purchasers who are unable to get a settlement statement, a copy of the executed retail sales contract showing all parties’ names and signatures, property address, purchase price and date of purchase.
  • For a newly constructed home where a settlement statement is not available, a copy of the certificate of occupancy showing the owner’s name, property address and date of the certificate.

In addition, the new law allows a long-time resident of the same main home to claim the homebuyer credit if they purchase a new principal residence. To qualify, eligible taxpayers must show that they lived in their old homes for a five-consecutive-year period during the eight-year period ending on the purchase date of the new home. The IRS has stepped up compliance checks involving the homebuyer credit, and it encouraged homebuyers claiming this part of the credit to avoid refund delays by attaching documentation covering the five-consecutive-year period:

  • Form 1098, Mortgage Interest Statement, or substitute mortgage interest statements,
  • Property tax records or
  • Homeowner’s insurance records.

The IRS also reminded homebuyers that the new documentation requirements mean that taxpayers claiming the credit cannot file electronically and must file paper returns. Taxpayers can still use IRS Free File to prepare their returns, but the returns must be printed out and sent to the IRS, along with all required documentation.

Normally, it takes about four to eight weeks to get a refund claimed on a complete and accurate paper return where all required documents are attached. For those homebuyers filing early, the IRS expects the first refunds based on the homebuyer credit will be issued toward the end of March.

The IRS encourages taxpayers to use direct deposit to speed their refund. In addition, taxpayers can use Where’s My Refund? on IRS.gov to track the status of their refund.

More details on claiming the credit can be found in the instructions to Form 5405, as well as on the First-Time Homebuyer Credit page on IRS.gov.

Will you owe taxes on a short-sale or foreclosure?

Dennis Norman

Depending on which estimate you believe, somewhere between one-third and one-half of the homeowners with a mortgage in the U.S. owe more on their homes than their homes are currently worth. This has lead to an unprecedented amount of short-sales and in many cases, a lender “forgiving” you of the short-fall (the amount of your loan your sale proceeds were not adequate to pay) which, in the past could have left you owing taxes on the “forgiven debt”.

For some of those underwater homeowners that are not fortunate enough to do a short sale they may end up losing their homes through foreclosure. Like short sales, in the past some foreclosures also resulted in the homeowner finding they owe taxes as a result of the foreclosure.

Fortunately seller’s in these situations today are getting some relief through the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act which, according to the IRS, “generally allows exlusion of income realized as a result of modification of the terms of a mortgage, or foreclosure on your principal residence.” This applies to debt forgiven in 2007 through 2012 up to $2 million in forgiven debt.

The following are some FAQ’s on the subject from the IRS. This is for information only…you should consult your CPA or tax professional to see how this may or may not apply to your situation:

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 the relief.

Does the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act apply to all forgiven or cancelled debts?
No. The Act applies only to forgiven or cancelled debt used to buy, build or substantially improve your principal residence, or to refinance debt incurred for those purposes. In addition, the debt must be secured by the home. This is known as qualified principal residence indebtedness. The maximum amount you can treat as qualified principal residence indebtedness is $2 million or $1 million if married filing
separately.

Does the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act apply to 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 through 2012.

Is there a limit on the amount of forgiven qualified principal residence indebtedness that can be excluded from income?
The maximum amount you can treat as qualified principal residence indebtedness is $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 the Form 982 to your tax return.

Where can I get this form?
If you use a computer to fill out your return, check your tax-preparation software. You can also download the form at IRS.gov, or call 1-800-829-3676. If you call to order, please allow 7-10 days for delivery.

How do I know or find 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, credit card or car loans?
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 required to include forgiven debts in income to the extent that you are insolvent. You are insolvent when your total liabilities 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 the 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 canceled in a title 11 bankruptcy case. An exclusion is also available for the cancellation of certain nonbusiness 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 canceled after my foreclosure, may I still exclude the canceled debt from income under the qualified principal residence exclusion, even though I no longer own my residence?
Yes, as long as the canceled debt was qualified principal residence indebtedness. See Example 2 on page 13 of Publication 4681, Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions, 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 canceled debt must be included as income on your tax return.

(2) File Form 982 with your tax return.

New updated info from IRS on Homebuyer Tax Credit

First-Time Homebuyer Credit Extended to April 30, 2010; Some Current Homeowners Now Also Qualify 

IRS TAX Credit InformationWASHINGTON — A new law that went into effect Nov. 6 extends the first-time homebuyer credit five months and expands the eligibility requirements for purchasers.

The Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act of 2009 extends the deadline for qualifying home purchases from Nov. 30, 2009, to April 30, 2010. Additionally, if a buyer enters into a binding contract by April 30, 2010, the buyer has until June 30, 2010, to settle on the purchase. Continue reading “New updated info from IRS on Homebuyer Tax Credit

First-time homebuyer credit provides tax benefits to 1.4 million familes to date according to the IRS

Dennis Norman

Dennis Norman

By: Dennis Norman

“I’m from the IRS and I’m here to help you.”

Yeah, sure. :)

Actually, in this case the IRS is trying to help. The IRS has a website and has even published a video on YouTube to help first-time buyers and potential buyers understand the first-time home buyer tax credit as well as how to claim the credit.

The IRS issued a notice yesterday reminding potential home buyers they must complete their first-time home purchases before Dec. 1 to qualify for the special first-time home buyer credit. The credit of up to $8,000 is generally available to home buyers with qualifying income levels who have never owned a home or have not owned one in the past three years. Continue reading “First-time homebuyer credit provides tax benefits to 1.4 million familes to date according to the IRS

IRS Warns Taxpayers to Beware of First-Time Homebuyer Credit Fraud

The Internal Revenue Service this week announced its first successful prosecution related to fraud involving the first-time homebuyer credit and warned taxpayers to beware of this type of scheme.

On Thursday July 23, 2009, a Jacksonville, Fla.-tax preparer, James Otto Price III, pled guilty to falsely claiming the first-time homebuyer credit on a client’s federal tax return. Price faces the possibility of up to three years in jail, a fine of as much as $250,000, or both. To date, the IRS has executed seven search warrants and currently has 24 open criminal investigations in pursuit of potential instances of fraud involving the credit.

The agency has a number of sophisticated computer screening tools to quickly identify returns that may contain fraudulent claims for the first-time homebuyer credit. “We will vigorously pursue anyone who falsely tries to claim this or any other tax credit or deduction,” said Eileen Mayer, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation. “The penalties for tax fraud are steep. Taxpayers should be wary of anyone who promises to get them a big refund.” Whether a taxpayer prepares his or her own return or uses the services of a paid preparer, it is the taxpayer who is ultimately responsible for the accuracy of the return. Fraudulent returns may result not only in the required payment of back taxes but also in penalties and interest.

First-Time Homebuyer Credit

The First-Time Homebuyer Credit, originally passed in 2008 and modified in 2009, provides up to $8,000 for first-time homebuyers. The purchaser, however, must qualify as a first-time homebuyer, which for purposes of this credit means someone who has not owned a primary residence in the past three years. If the taxpayer is married, this requirement also applies to the taxpayer’s spouse. The home purchase must close before Dec. 1, 2009, to qualify, and the credit may not be claimed on the purchaser’s tax return until after the taxpayer closes and has purchased the home.

Different rules apply for homes bought in 2008.

Full details and instructions are available on the official IRS Web site.