NO MORE STATE TAX ON FORGIVEN DEBT

Distressed homeowners no longer have to pay California state income tax on debt forgiven in a short sale, foreclosure, or loan modification.  Enacted into law yesterday, Senate Bill 401 generally aligns California’s tax treatment of mortgage debt relief income with federal law.  For debt forgiven on a loan secured by a “qualified principal residence,” borrowers will now be exempt from both federal and state income tax consequences.  The existing federal exemption is for indebtedness up to $2 million, whereas the new California exemption is for indebtedness up to $800,000 and forgiven debt up to $500,000.

“Qualified principal residence” indebtedness is defined as debt incurred in acquiring, constructing, or substantially improving a principal residence.  It includes both first and second trust deeds.  It also includes a refinance loan to the extent the funds were used to payoff a previous loan that would have qualified.

The tax breaks apply to debts discharged from 2009 through 2012.  Californians who have already filed their 2009 tax returns may claim the exemption by filing a Form 540X amendment.
 
Taxpayers who do not qualify for the above exemptions (e.g., second home or rental property) may nevertheless be exempt under other provisions.  Most notably, taxpayers who are bankrupt are exempt from debt relief income tax.  Also, taxpayers who are insolvent are exempt from debt relief income tax to the extent their current liabilities exceed current assets.

For more information about mortgage forgiveness tax consequences, go to California Franchise Tax Board’s Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Extended webpage and the Internal Revenue Service’s Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act and Debt Cancellation webpage.  The full text of Senate Bill 401 is available at www.leginfo.ca.gov.

This article was provided by CAR.

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Governor Scwartzenegger signs Home Tax Credit Bill


On March 25, 2010 Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 183 providing $200 million for home buyer tax credits.  The bill allocates $100 million for qualified first-time home buyers who purchase existing homes and $100 million for purchasers of new, or previously unoccupied, homes.

Eligible taxpayers who close escrow on qualified principal residences between May 1, 2010 and December, 31, 2010, or who close escrow on a qualified principal residence on and after December 31, 2010 and before August 1, 2011, pursuant to an enforceable contract executed on or before December 31, 2010, will be able to take the allowed tax credit.
This credit is equal to the lesser of 5 percent of the purchase price or $10,000, taken in equal installments over three consecutive years. Under the bill, purchasers will be required to live in the home as their principal residence for at least two years or forfeit the credit (i.e. repay it to the state).  Buyers also must be at least 18 years old and be unrelated to the seller.  First-time buyers are defined as those who have not owned a home in the past three years.
To learn more about the California Home Buyer Tax Credit, click here.

This Article was provided by CAR. As I am not a tax professional, please confer with your CPA or other tax advisor about how this California tax credit may affect your next home purchase.

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How to Get the Homebuyer Tax Credit

You’ve decided to purchase a home and take advantage of the Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit. Here’s what you have to do to get your benefit:

  1. Close on your home purchase between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010, or have a binding written contract in place by April 30, 2010 with a closing date no later than June 30, 2010.
  2.  Decide whether to: 
  • apply the credit to your 2009 tax return, filed on or before April 15, 2010;
  •  file an amended 2009 return; or, 
  • apply the credit on your 2010 return, filed on or before April 15, 2011.

      3.   Attach documentation of purchase to your return.

When to Apply the Credit

Buyers purchasing in 2010 will have the option to:

  •  Claim the credit on their 2009 return, even if the purchase is completed after December 31, 2009;
  •  File an amended return for 2009 if their purchase is completed after April 15, 2010; or,
  •  Claim the credit on their 2010 tax returns.

Applying the Credit to Your 2009 Taxes

You will need to do three things to claim the credit on your 2009 tax return:

  1. Fill out Form 5405 to determine the amount of your available credit;
  2. Apply the credit when you file your 2009 tax return or file an amended return;
  3. Attach documentation of purchase to your return or amended return.

How do I obtain an IRS Form 5405?

Go to: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f5405.pdf

How to Apply the Home Buyer Tax Credit to your 2009 Return

To claim the credit as part of your 2009 return, you will need: The standard Form 1040 and Form 5405 for the home buyer tax credit.

  1. First begin Form 1040.
  2. Be sure to take note of your adjusted gross income, which you enter on lines 37 of the form. Form 5405 actually requires you to note your modified adjusted gross income, but that affects few people, so most will just use their adjusted gross income.
  3. When you come to Line 69 you’ll be asked to enter your tax credit amount. To do that, you’ll need to first complete Form 5405. 
  4. Once you complete Form 5405, enter the amount on Line 69, then complete your return.
  5. Attach Form 5405 to your return.

Collecting Your Refund

Any refund for which you qualify will be sent to you.

Determining Your First-Time Buyer Credit Amount: Form 5405

Regardless of whether you’re applying the first-time home buyer tax credit on your 2009 return or your 2010 return, you’ll need to visit the IRS Web site and download  Form 5405:  http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f5405.pdf . This form has just six lines and takes only a minute to complete. 

  1. On the first line enter either $8,000 or 10 percent of the home purchase price, whichever is smaller. Since the national median home price is around $175,200 (March 2009), in most cases the $8,000 will be the smaller of the two. In order for 10 percent of the home price to be smaller, the home purchase price would have to be $79,999 or less. 
  2. On the second line enter your adjusted gross income. You will find your gross adjusted income on line 37 of Form 1040, which you submitted when you filed your 2008 return. The tax credit form actually requires you to note your modified adjusted gross income, but that affects few people, so most will just use their adjusted gross income.
  3. If your adjusted gross income is more than $75,000 (individual) or your income is more than $150,000 (joint) you’ll have to complete some additional calculations to determine the credit amount for which you qualify.
    Everyone else will simply enter the tax credit amount on Line 6.

The information in this Blog was condensed from a recent NAR article. Please do not consider this article as income tax counsel and please verify the above information with your CPA or other Tax Advisor.

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There’s still Time to take advantage of the “Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit”

You don’t have to be a first time home buyer to take advantage of the “Extended Home Buyer Tax Credit”.

You could receive an $6,500 TAX CREDIT if you are CURRENTLY A HOMEOWNER and purchase another owner occupied home between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010 that closes escrow by July 1, 2010. You must have used the home being sold or vacated as a principal residence for five consecutive years within the last eight.

You could be eligible for an $8,000 TAX CREDIT if you are a FIRST-TIME HOME BUYER and purchase a home between November 7, 2009 and April 30, 2010 that closes escrow by July 1, 2010. You or your spouse must not have owned a home during the three years prior to the purchase.

The purchase price cannot exceed $800,000. Also, single Buyers with incomes that do not exceed $125,000 and married couples with combined incomes up to $225,000 may receive the maximum tax credit. The tax credit will not need to be repaid as long as the home is “owner occupied” for three years or more. If the property is sold during this three-year period, the full amount of the tax credit will be recouped on the sale.

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