Back in January of 2009, as we were deciding if we were going to file bankruptcy or not, we had been talking to my husband’s creditors, which was really easy to do as they were calling us at least once every day. I encouraged him to let them know that we were close to filing and to ask them if they would be willing to 1) drop the principle, and 2) drop the interest rate. One of our creditors proposed a significant settlement deal that was really hard, but resulted in a cancellation of debt.
At the time, I was advised by a family member to look out for tax forms to include in our 2009 tax return, but that we shouldn’t be concerned about it affecting our taxes. This family member happens to work very closely with the IRS, so I trust them to steer me in the right direction.
When I started working on our taxes last month, I had forgotten that we were advised to take care of that debt cancellation form in a specific way. Luckily, when I got it in the mail, I talked to the family member and she clarified that:
If you are insolvent at the time that your debt is cancelled, you do NOT have to include the cancellation in your income (*)
You have to fill out a special form (IRS Form 982 – Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness) and have records that show that you were, in fact, insolvent at the time of cancellation. In our case, were were (sadly) VERY insolvent – we had over $60K in debt and no real assets (under $20K worth of personal property), so we qualify for this.
So, we are able to take the $4,500+ that was written off and leave it out of our income, which helped to make our potential tax return even greater (yahoo!)…
We didn’t include this amount in our starting amount (and some of out other debts), because we started the blog after we had already started paying off our debt, so the reality is that we actually started this journey at over $70K…yikes… but to know that we have reduced our debt by more than $30K in a year – that tells me that we can get to the end…
* I am not a tax advisor and every person’s situation is different. Consult your tax professional for information about your taxes.