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Congress Reaches Agreement on Mortgage Relief Bill

December 19th, 2007 · No Comments

Here is another facet of the financial “crisis” we face – whether or not you own real estate, this will be paid for by your taxes (and mine).  

The House of Representatives will approve the Senate-passed version of H.R. 3648, the “Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007.”  Thus, once the House passes this bill it will be cleared for the President’s signature.

  

Under the Mortgage Relief Act, effective for indebtedness discharged on or after Jan. 1, 2007 and before Jan. 1, 2010, taxpayers generally may exclude from income up to $2 million of mortgage debt forgiveness on their principal residence. However, the Mortgage Relief Act also includes the following important tax changes having nothing to do with mortgage debt tax relief:

  

·          A three year extension of the rule treating qualifying mortgage insurance premiums as deductible qualified residence interest.

  

·          An exclusion for qualified state or local tax benefits (e.g., reduction or rebate of state or local income or property tax) and reimbursement-type payments (up to $360 a year) granted to members of a qualified volunteer emergency response organization. The new exclusion will apply for tax years beginning after 2007 and before 2011.

  

·          Effective for sales and exchanges after Dec. 31, 2007, surviving single spouses will qualify for the $500,000 home-sale exclusion if the sale occurs not later than 2 years after their spouse’s death and the requirements for the $500,000 exclusion were met immediately before the spouse’s death. Currently, the up-to-$500,000 exclusion is available only if spouses file a joint return for the year of sale.

  

·          Effective on the enactment date, two alternative methods are provided for meeting the 80% rule for qualifying as a cooperative housing corporation.

  

·          Certain full-time students who are single parents and their children may live in housing units eligible for the low-income housing tax credit if their children are not dependents of another individual (other than a parent of such children). In general, this change applies to housing credit amounts allocated before, on or after the enactment date, and to buildings placed in service before, on or after the enactment date.

  

·          Effective for returns filed after the enactment date, the per-partner penalty for failure to file partnership returns is $85 per month, and the period for calculating the failure to file penalty is 12 months. Additionally, a like per-shareholder penalty is imposed on failure to file an S corporation return.

  

·          The required installment amount for estimated tax payments by corporations with assets of $1 billion or more that is otherwise due in July, Aug., or Sept. of 2012 increases from 115.75% to 117.25%.

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