I am not convinced that Real Estate Professionals are taking this type of tax into enough consideration as we progress through the rest of 2013. Heck it’s almost over as far as a typical short sale is concerned.
This is a real tax and a tax that needs to be analyzed with each and every seller with whom you encounter. I am concerned as I hear real estate professionals consistently talk of the end of the year as a deadline for the special law that eliminates the tax for many taxpayers, but not for everybody.
I DON’T THINK WE HAVE BEEN SERIOUS ENOUGH IN BRINGING THIS ISSUE TO SELLERS’ ATTENTION
This is a tax law that has allowed many homeowners to escape thousands of dollars of tax liability based upon their meeting certain criteria.
In my practice of dealing with distressed homeowners, THIS IS A HUGE MATTER each time I meet with a seller. It is an important matter handled in each and every consultation. Not all sellers qualify for the exception. I am concerned as some are Brokers are sloppy and have it apply to almost everybody. It was not designed to protect everybody or even benefit everybody.
THIS SPECIAL TAX BENEFIT HAS A HIGH LIKELIHOOD OF ENDING THIS DECEMBER 31ST!!!
I don’t like to always bring up fear, but if I am advising clients that may qualify for this rule I am advising them to take advantage and SELL SHORT RIGHT NOW as it becomes more dangerous as we get closer and closer to the end of December. As we often say: “There is nothing short about a short sale”. I am not convinced that it will be extended. Frankly, I fear that it won’t and I think, as a result, that I would encourage taking short sale action NOW as opposed to waiting until later on this year. A word to the wise.
I ALWAYS TALK TAX WITH EVERY DISTRESED HOMEOWNER I MEET
Now as we are already almost into September, this whole subject takes on new importance. I am writing this message today to make sure that you Brokers out there are taking this tax matter seriously. TODAY…….NOT FOUR MONTHS FROM NOW!!!!!
Why worry, you say, about something happening four (4) months from now? You should worry. You should plan now and change your methodology dramatically for the rest of this year.
I AM ENCOURAGING SELLERS TO ENGAGE “NOW” IN THEIR SHORT SALE… NOW IS A TIME NOT TO WAIT
So we are suggesting that sellers really engage and start moving forward and listing and selling. It makes good sense if they want to take advantage of the forgiveness of debt tax before the end of the year. You have to get going now to make sure the deal gets closed before the end of the year. In fact, that is asking for a lot to happen in a very short time. As we all know, there is nothing short about a short sale.
A SHORT “CLIFF NOTES VERSION” OF THIS TAX RULE
Every real estate licensee out there that is talking with any distressed homeowner about doing anything for those folks has to at least know that this tax exists. It’s simple really, but most sellers have no clue about it and, frankly, don’t understand it at all. I see their eyes glazing over every time I bring it up to a typical client, but I get their attention when I tell them the tax is easily over $28,000.00 unless they pay close attention. They wake up immediately. You see that is the tax on $100,000.00 of debt forgiveness, which is a pretty typical amount in our practice. That is a serious tax consequence. Have you thought about that in relation to that listing you just took? I tell short sale sellers that in most cases we are able to have an exception because of special rules that assist homeowners who have lived in their primary residence property for a prescribed period of time.
There are exceptions, but in many cases THEY CAN TOTALLY AVOID THAT TAX AND DO A SHORT SALE!!
EVERY SHORT SALE ALWAYS PRODUCES SOME DEBT FOREGIVENESS [YOU CAN COUNT ON THAT!!]
You can count on debt forgiveness in every short sale. It comes with the territory. The key factor is whether it will adversely affect your seller or not. In many cases it won’t. However, one has to go through that tax law with a fine tooth comb and account for each and every refinance that your sellers did on their home during their time of ownership. Many used their property as cash registers!!! We do all those calculations in our consultation.
I have to tell all of you that tax advice is not part of your license as a real estate professional and I am happy to give you information in this outline of the tax law. I am NOT suggesting that you all go out and apply it to your sellers’ situation. There are a lot of traps for the unwary here folks.
EVERY CONSULTATION MY ATTORNEYS CONDUCT INCLUDES TAX ADVICE…REMEMBER NOT ALL ATTORNEYS INCLUDE TAX ADVICE
It’s part of what we do. We discuss tax matters in everyone on of our $150.00 Consultations. So you don’t have to send your seller to their CPA. We can handle that AND include all the law and credit aspects as well. An integral part of our practice is tax. We attorneys are happy to talk tax. Be cautious as many attorneys do NOT include tax as part of their consultations, and as a result, your client has to also see a CPA or tax accountant. We are a one stop shop.
NOW IS THE TIME TO PLAN…WHAT HAPPENS IF THE CONGRESS DOES NOT FURTHER EXTEND THIS FAVORABLE TAX TREATMENT?
This favorable tax law that allows your clients to avoid this tax on debt forgiveness expires in about four (4) months on December 31st. I monitor this daily through our Bar Association Committee on Taxation back in Washington, D.C. Very little is happening on that front and conventional wisdom indicates that there is a likelihood of this tax law NOT being extended!!
We need to prepare now. We need to change the “talk track” you have with your sellers. Sellers are coming in to me now with this issue on their mind as many have been informed by others about the adverse consequences if the tax law goes out of existence at the end of the year.
HECK….WE ARE ALREADY DOING IT!!!! WE ARE PREPARED ALREADY
You see, F.H.A. deals take a long time. For us they typically are about a year from the first meeting with the seller and the day of closing. They are government deals and they take a long time in most cases. So I am talking tax to folks who are asking what is going to happen if they don’t pass that law.
WE HAVE ANOTHER TAX LAW…THIS ONE WILL NOT EXPIRE ON DEC. 31ST!!!
Some of you have heard about it. Most haven’t. Don’t feel bad. It is kind of the domain of attorneys and CPA’s. It can get a bit complicated and it requires some credentials that are really beyond the scope of your license out there my friends, but I want you all to be aware that it exists and then get your seller in for a consultation with one of our attorneys and we are happy to go over all their tax issues.
THE INSOLVENCY EXEMPTION FROM THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF OUR TAX PRACTICE
This exemption has been a part of the tax code for a long time. This exemption does NOT expire on December 31st. This exemption is useful even if your seller is not occupying the subject short sale property.
We ALWAYS go over the insolvency exemption when it applies in each of our consultations. We have a whole raft of literature including worksheets and the like to allow sellers to feel comfortable EVEN IF the Congress sits on its hands and does nothing.