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Short sales and tax implications – do I need a new job?

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An agent recently called me to discuss the tax implications of a short sale. He said that his seller was concerned about both the tax implications and future liability for the debt forgiven and was in the process of investigating both issues. Smart seller and a smart agent, too. These are very important points to consider before participating in a short sale.

(Caveat: I’m not an attorney or an accountant. I don’t even play one on tv. So, if you or your short sale sellers really want the skinny on the tax implications of a short sale, my best advice is to speak with a reputable accountant or tax attorney.)

Now that I have put all the cards on the table, note that I have no problem pointing agents and sellers in the right direction—where they can obtain accurate information.

Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007

If sellers are interested in learning more about the tax implications of a short sale, they need to read the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007

Back in the day when real estate agents made a decent living selling real estate, anyone who had debt forgiven would receive a 1099-C. The difference between the amount owed and the debt forgiven would be considered taxable income. But, George Bush passed the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007. After that, the impact of debt forgiveness on short sales became more favorable to many short sale sellers. The Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 was extended through December 31, 2012 (you know… ten days after the world is supposed to end). So, short sale sellers who want to take advantage of the tax relief provided by this act would need to have their short sale closed by the last day of 2012.

Remember, if you are interested in learning more about this Act, you and/or your sellers should speak with a qualified accountant in order to learn more about how this curtain may impact their specific situation.

What about the 1099-C?

Many short sale sellers will receive a 1099-C for debt forgiven. For some short sale sellers, this may mean that the amount of debt forgiven is considered as taxable income. It is the responsibility of the seller and the seller’s accountant to determine how to handle the 1099-C.

The agent who contacted me wanted to also chat about a really interesting point. What is going to happen on January 1, 2013? Will the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 be extended? If not, how will the lack of tax relief impact a seller’s interest in participating in a short sale? Will this be better or worse for our economy? How will this impact the short sale market? Gee, let me get out my crystal ball and see what it says.

I think what the agent essentially wanted to know is this: If I focus on short sales, do I need to get a new job?

What say you?

Melissa Zavala is the Broker/Owner of Broadpoint Properties and Head Honcho of Short Sale Expeditor®, and Chief Executive Officer of Transaction 911. Before landing in real estate, she had careers in education and publishing. Most recently, she has been able to use her teaching and organizational skills while traveling the world over—dispelling myths about the distressed property market, engaging and motivating real estate agents, and sharing her passion for real estate. When she isn’t speaking or writing, Melissa enjoys practicing yoga, walking the dog, and vacationing at beach resorts.

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26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Brad Officer - Jacksonville Short Sales

    May 31, 2011 at 7:51 am

    I'm not too concerned about January 1st 2013. In my opinion, this business is about attracting home owners who want to sell their property right now. Part of selling real estate in 2011 is being proficient at completing short sales, so if the agent in question is in business this year – do short sales.

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Economic News

Is the real estate industry endorsing Carson’s nomination to HUD?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ben Carson’s initial appointment to HUD was controversial given his lack of experience in housing, but what is the pulse now?

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NAR strongly backs Dr. Carson’s nomination

When President-Elect Donald Trump put forth Dr. Ben Carson’s name as the nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, NAR President William E. Brown said, “While we’ve made great strides in recent years, far more can be done to put the dream of homeownership in reach for more Americans.”

At the time of nomination, the National Association of Realtors (the largest trade organization in the nation) offered a positive tone regarding Dr. Carson and said the industry looks forward to working with him. But does that hold true today?

The confirmation hearings yesterday were far less controversial than one would expect, especially in light of how many initially reacted to his nomination. Given his lack of experience in housing, questions seemed to often center around protecting the LGBT community and veterans, both of which he pledged to support.

In fact, Dr. Carson said the Fair Housing Act is “one of the best pieces of legislation we’ve ever had in this country,” promising to issue a “world-class plan” for housing upon his confirmation…

>>>>>Click to continue reading…<<<<<

#CarsonHUD

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Economic News

Job openings hit 14-year high, signaling economic improvement

The volume of job openings is improving, but not across all industries. The overall economy is improving, but not evenly across all career paths.

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Job openings hit a high point

To understand the overall business climate, the U.S. Labor Department studies employment, today releasing data specific to job vacancies. According to the department’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLT) for April, job openings rose to 5.38 million, the highest seen since December 2000, and a significant jump from March’s 5.11 million vacancies. Although a lagging indicator, it shows strength in the labor market.

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The Labor Department reports that the number of hires in April fell to 5 million, which indicates a weak point in the strong report, and although the volume remains near recent highs, this indicates a talent gap and highlights the number of people who have left the labor market and given up on looking for a job.

Good news, bad news, depending on your profession

That said, another recent Department report notes that employers added 221,000 jobs in April and 280,000 in May, but the additions are not evenly spread across industries. Construction jobs rose in April, but dipped in professional and business services, hospitality, trade, and transportation utilities. In other words, white collar jobs are down, blue collar jobs are up, which is good or bad news depending on your profession.

Additionally, the volume of people quitting their jobs was 2.7 million in April compared to the seven-year high of 2.8 million in March. Economists follow this number as a metric for gauging employee confidence in finding their next job.

What’s next

If you’re in the market for a job, there are an increasing number of openings, so your chance of getting hired is improving, but there is a caveat – not all industries are enjoying improvement.

If you’re hiring talent, you’ll still get endless resumes, but there appears to be a growing talent gap for non-labor jobs, so you’re not alone in struggling to find the right candidate.

Economists suspect the jobs market will continue to improve as a whole, but this data does not pertain to every industry.

#JobOpenings

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Economic News

Gas prices are down, so are gas taxes about to go up?

Do low gas prices mean higher gas taxes are on the way? Budgeting for 2015 just got a bit more complicated, if some politicians have their way.

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Gas taxes and your bottom line

Many industries rely heavily on time in their vehicle, not just truck drivers and delivery trucks. Sales professionals hop in their vehicles throughout the day, as do many other types of professionals (service providers like plumbers, and so forth). For that reason, gas prices and taxes are a relevant line item that must be budgeted for 2015, but with politicians making the rounds to push for higher gas taxes, budgeting becomes more complicated.

Gas prices are down roughly 50 cents per gallon compared to a year ago, which some analysts say have contributed to more money in consumers’ pockets. Some believe that this will improve holiday sales, but others believe the timing is just right to increase federal taxes on gas. The current tax on gas is 18.40 cents per gallon, and on diesel are 24.40 cents per gallon.

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Supporters and opponents are polar opposites

Supporters argue as follows: gas prices are low, so it won’t hurt to increase federal gas taxes, in fact, those funds must go toward improving our infrastructure, which in the long run, saves Americans money because smoother roads mean better gas mileage and less congestion.

Gas taxes have long been a polarizing concept, and despite lowered gas prices, the controversial nature of the taxes have not diminished.

While some are pushing for complete abolition of federal gas taxes, others, like former Pennsylvania Governor, Ed Rendell (D) tell CNBC, “Say that cost the average driver $130 a year. They would get a return on that investment” in safer roads and increased quality of life, he added.

The Washington Post‘s Chris Mooney points out that federal gas taxes have been “stuck” at 18 cents for over 20 years, last raised when gas was barely a dollar a gallon and that the tax must increase not only to improve the infrastructure, but to “green” our behavior, and help our nation find tax reform compromise.

Is a gas tax politically plausible?

Mooney writes, “So, this is not an argument that a gas tax raise is politically plausible — any more than a economically efficient tax on carbon would be. It’s merely a suggestion that — ignoring politics — it might be a pretty good idea.”

Rendell noted, “The World Economic Forum, 10 years ago, rated us the best infrastructure in the world,” adding that we “need to do something for our infrastructure, not in a one or two year period, but over a decade.”

Others would note that this rating has not crumbled in just a few years, that despite many bridges and roads in need of repair, our infrastructure is still superior to even the most civilized nations.

Regardless of the reasons, most believe that Congress won’t touch this issue with a ten-foot pole, especially leading up to another Presidential campaign season starting next year.

“I think it’s too toxic and continues to be too toxic,” Steve LaTourette (the former Republican congressman best known for his close friendship with his fellow Ohioan, Speaker John Boehner) tells The Atlantic. “I see no political will to get this done.”

Whether the time is fortuitous or not, and regardless of the positive side effects, many point to a fear of voters’ retaliation against any politician siding with a gas hike, so this matter going any further than the proposal stage is unlikely.

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