December 13, 2017

Do You Have to Pay Taxes on a Short Sale?

Many have been wondering “Do you have to pay taxes on a short sale” and a ton of people have asked me about this on Facebook in the last several months.

Well the verdict is in… This is great news is you recently had to “short sale” your home in 2013.

In the past there was a chance that the IRS could come after you for the amount that was forgiven as “income” and charge you taxes on it for that year.


short sale for you

Will I Have to Pay Taxes On My Short Sale Amount?

On Nov. 15 the California Association of REALTORS® reported that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will not consider mortgage debt that is forgiven as part of a short sale as taxable income.

This policy change comes just weeks before the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act was set to expire on Dec. 31.

C.A.R. is now working with the California Franchise Tax Board to make state tax regulations match the federal regulations.



A short sale in California is generally not subject to federal income tax for mortgage debt forgiveness, according to a recent letter from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). C.A.R. worked closely with Senator Barbara Boxer to obtain this IRS guidance.

We are also hopeful that we can promptly obtain similar guidance regarding state income tax for mortgage debt relief income from the California Franchise Tax Board (FTB), which has been awaiting this IRS letter.

Given that a homeowner in California generally cannot be held personally liable for a short sale deficiency (see below), the IRS stated in its letter that it would consider the mortgage loan as a nonrecourse obligation that is not subject to federal debt relief income tax. 


The amount of indebtedness, however, must be reported as the amount realized for capital gains purposes. Of course, a principal residence is generally excluded from capital gains tax up to $250,000 for single taxpayers and $500,000 for married couples filing joint returns (under 26 U.S.C. § 121).

As background, California law generally protects a borrower from owing a deficiency after a short sale of a residential property with one-to-four units, including both first and junior trust deeds (Cal. Code of Civ. Proc. section 580e). Exceptions include fraud, waste, cross-collateralized loan, and a borrower that is a corporation, LLC, or limited partnership. For more information, see C.A.R.’s legal article on Short Sale Deficiencies.

Although short sale sellers of a qualified principal residence are currently protected against federal debt relief income tax under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, that federal law is set to expire on December 31, 2013, whereas the tax exemption set forth in the IRS letter has no expiration date.

Similar protection to the federal Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act for state income tax under California law has already expired on December 31, 2012.

…However, other exemptions from federal and state taxation of debt relief income are available, such as for bankruptcies and insolvencies. REALTORS® should encourage their clients to seek the advice of a tax professional regarding the tax consequences of a short sale.


Remember…  I’m giving away free stuff right here.

Also… If you ever have any questions on a situation having to do with Real Estate or Lending and you just want to talk to someone..  Connect with me on my Facebook Profile and I’ll be happy to connect with you or answer any questions you might have.

– Jason Wheeler

About Jason Wheeler - Real Estate & Lending

Jason Wheeler has been a top producing consultant in real estate and finance since 2003. Originating, conventional, government, portfolio and hard money loans throughout California for one of the top mortgage companies in the nation. Jason works directly with homeowners and purchases homes throughout the Bay Area with the purpose of adding value to older outdated homes. IF YOU LIKE OUR CONTENT GO VIP HERE

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