One of the most asked questions that I get when people discuss short selling their home, is “Will I have tax consequences with short selling my home?”.

Until 2007, the government taxed a homeowner on the difference between what they owe and what the home sold for in a short sale.  In some markets and some instances, this could be a significant amount that would put a taxpayer into a different tax bracket.  The government introduced Mortgage Debt Cancellation Relief as response to the rising number of foreclosures, short sales and price corrections in some markets.  This Debt Relief is valid until December 31, 2012. 

General Guidelines of the Mortgage Debt Cancellation Relief:

  • Dollar limitation: No more than $2 million in mortgage debt will be eligible for the relief (If married filing separately – the amount is $1 million)
  •  No income limitation: It does not matter what a borrowers income is.  All borrowers can receive relief.
  • Debt Relief applies only to a borrowers principal residence.
  • The debt to be forgiven must have been secured by that residence.
  • Cash-outs are not available for relief.  If it’s a first mortgage that has been refinanced, a second mortgage, a home equity line of credit or other, if it was not used to rehabilitate the residence, it is not eligible.
  • Eligible debt is debt used to acquire, construct or rehabilitate a residence.
    • Refinanced debt:  qualifies if it is not greater than the original amount of debt.
    • Home equity debt or second mortgage:  This qualifies if the money was used to rehabilitate or improve the home.
    • Cash Outs:  Are not treated as acquisition debt.  If the funds are not used on the home, it is not eligible.

There are additional provisions for investors, bankruptcy, insolvency, and other unique circumstances.

To learn more about this act, visit the IRS at:,,id=179414,00.html

Follow the link on that page for a publication with examples and detail on the Mortgage Debt Relief Act.

Will this relief be extended beyond 2012?  We don’t know.  It certainly is something as homeowners, we need to keep track of. 

For Informational Purposes Only.  Please contact your tax advisor for additional information and how this debt relief would apply to you.