Tax Administration: Expanded Information Reporting Could Help IRS Address Compliance Challenges with Forgiven Mortgage Debt

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A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "To assist the growing number of taxpayers facing foreclosure or mortgage restructuring, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, and its 3-year extension as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, allows taxpayers to generally exclude from taxable income forgiven mortgage debt used to buy, build, or substantially improve a principal residence. Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimates originally suggested that the exclusion of forgiven mortgage debt from taxable income may result in about $968 million in federal revenue losses from fiscal year ... continued below

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United States. Government Accountability Office. August 31, 2010.

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Description

A letter report issued by the Government Accountability Office with an abstract that begins "To assist the growing number of taxpayers facing foreclosure or mortgage restructuring, the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, and its 3-year extension as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, allows taxpayers to generally exclude from taxable income forgiven mortgage debt used to buy, build, or substantially improve a principal residence. Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimates originally suggested that the exclusion of forgiven mortgage debt from taxable income may result in about $968 million in federal revenue losses from fiscal year (FY) 2008 through FY 2013 and more recent estimates suggest that the revenue losses could be closer to $1.9 billion. The Department of Treasury estimates suggest that the exclusion may result in federal revenue losses of about $1.4 billion from FY 2008 through FY 2013. Some taxpayers with forgiven mortgage debts may be bankrupt or insolvent; however, others are not and therefore may have the ability to pay taxes on forgiven mortgage debts. The briefing slides summarize our assessment of the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) administration of this tax provision. In response to your request, our objectives were to identify 1. the number of taxpayers who have reported the exclusion of forgiven mortgage debt since the program's inception and the dollar amount excluded; 2. the challenges, if any, IRS faces in administering the exclusion and evaluate how effectively IRS is addressing the challenges; and 3. the challenges, if any, taxpayers could face in understanding whether forgiven mortgage debt can be excluded from taxable income and evaluate how to address these challenges."

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Government Accountability Office Reports

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for the U.S. Congress investigating how the federal government spends taxpayers' money. Its goal is to increase accountability and improve the performance of the federal government. The Government Accountability Office Reports Collection consists of over 13,000 documents on a variety of topics ranging from fiscal issues to international affairs.

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  • August 31, 2010

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  • June 12, 2014, 7:50 p.m.

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United States. Government Accountability Office. Tax Administration: Expanded Information Reporting Could Help IRS Address Compliance Challenges with Forgiven Mortgage Debt, report, August 31, 2010; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc297541/: accessed December 13, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.