Ch 7 discharged secured/unsecured debts AND "reduction of tax attributes" on tax return.

Asked over 1 year ago - Charlotte, NC

Filed chapter 7 , II are 1 - mortgage on home , 2 - mortgage on rental 3 - unsecured cc . All debts were discharged , zero obligation . Bank has liens on homes and will get their money if / when those properties are sold . For tax purposes I have to file form 982 and report discharged debt which in essence can be excluded from gross income . Per my bankruptcy attorney I don't have to pay any taxes on the discharged debts . Net result - wash . ( per bk attorney ) . Tax Time - Here's what I don't understand - " reduction of tax attributes . " So now my accountant says I have to reduce my cost basis by the amount discharged . Therefore in the future if I sell the house I could potentially pay capital gains tax . What ? If I sell the bank get all the money to cover the liens . Why do I have to pay cap gain ?

Additional information

I truly don't understand the reduction in basis. Ch 7 relieved me of the debts. If Ch 7 relieved me of the debts AND gave me the house as well - I WILL GLADLY PAY CAP GAINS at disposition of the homes. Yes I am walking away debt free but because the bank still has liens on the homes, the "creditor" has not lost or will lose any money! So why must I do a "reduction in tax attributes?"

I don't understand. Can someone shed some light on this? Who supercedes who? Bankruptcy courts or IRS? Is my accountant wrong in this case? Is there a way around where another form/filing washes the basis reduction?

Btw - we're still paying the mortgages on both primary home and the rental property still has a tenant. Both mortgages are still being paid post bankruptcy as we still want to stay in the home.

Any comments or suggestions is greatly appreciated.

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Mark Markus

    Contributor Level 16

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Your accountant is correct. I always advise my clients of this possibility, particularly when they have loss carryforwards they are taking on their taxes each year because they will lose those before any basis reduction is required. It all depends on the amount of debts discharged and the amount of attributes you have.

    Section 108 of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 108) provides for the exclusion of debt discharged in bankruptcy from income, but requires a reduction in specific tax attributes in the following order:
    (A) NOL
    Any net operating loss for the taxable year of the discharge,
    and any net operating loss carryover to such taxable year.
    (B) General business credit
    Any carryover to or from the taxable year of a discharge of
    an amount for purposes for determining the amount allowable as
    a credit under section 38 (relating to general business
    credit).
    (C) Minimum tax credit
    The amount of the minimum tax credit available under section
    53(b) as of the beginning of the taxable year immediately
    following the taxable year of the discharge.
    (D) Capital loss carryovers
    Any net capital loss for the taxable year of the discharge,
    and any capital loss carryover to such taxable year under
    section 1212.
    (E) Basis reduction
    (i) In general
    The basis of the property of the taxpayer.
    (ii) Cross reference
    For provisions for making the reduction described in clause
    (i), see section 1017.
    (F) Passive activity loss and credit carryovers
    Any passive activity loss or credit carryover of the taxpayer
    under section 469(b) from the taxable year of the discharge.
    (G) Foreign tax credit carryovers
    Any carryover to or from the taxable year of the discharge
    for purposes of determining the amount of the credit allowable
    under section 27.

    Congress has the power to make any laws it wants. This is how they modified the Internal Revenue Code with regard to bankruptcy cases.

    It sounds like you're upset at the law. This country has many laws. Some are fair and some are not. Not everyone likes every law. But it is the law. The way to change laws is to contact your Congressional representatives.

    Mark Markus has been practicing exclusively bankruptcy law in California since 1991. He is a Certified Specialist in Bankruptcy Law by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, AV-Rated by martindale.com, and A+ rated by the Better Business Bureau. His webpage is www.bklaw.com

    Legal disclaimer: Mark J. Markus practices law in California only. The information is not, nor is it intended to... more
  2. Gary D. Bollinger

    Contributor Level 19

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You wrote, "So now my accountant says I have to reduce my cost basis [in the real estate] by the amount discharged . Therefore in the future if I sell the house I could potentially pay capital gains tax . What ? If I sell the bank get all the money to cover the liens . Why do I have to pay cap gain ?"

    Comment:
    I am not a tax attorney, but if the hypothetical future sale covers the existing lien and puts $10,000 of sales proceeds in your pocket, it sounds like income to me.

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