Archive for the ‘Stephen Fishman’ Category

New Medicare Tax Creates Incentives for Home Sales – Reprint from Inman News 7/12/2012

With so many people already part of Medicare or soon to be part of Medicare this is important information. 

By Stephen Fishman
The Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare“) will affect everyone in the United States one way or another. But some people will be affected more than others. Among these are high-income taxpayers. Starting in 2013, they will be subject to a brand new Medicare tax on their “unearned income.”

Who is subject to the tax?

Starting in 2013, a 3.8 percent Medicare contributions tax will be imposed on the lesser of (1) the taxpayer’s net investment income, or (2) any excess of modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) over $200,000 ($250,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly). Thus, all single taxpayers with MAGI over $200,000 and married taxpayers with MAGI over $250,000 will be subject to this tax. This is a small proportion of the population, but a significant one for the real estate industry.

What income is taxed?

The tax applies only to investment income. This includes:

  • gross income from interest, dividends, annuities, royalties, and rents other than those derived from an active business
  • the net gain earned from the sale or other disposition of investment and other non-business property, and
  • any other gain from a passive trade or business.

This includes just about any income not derived from an active business or from employee compensation.

Example: Sue and Sam, a married couple filing jointly, have a MAGI of $300,000 in 2013 which includes $100,000 of net investment income. Their MAGI is $50,000 over the $250,000 threshold, thus they must pay the 3.8 percent tax on $50,000 of their investment income. This results in a $1,900 tax.

Can the tax apply to the profit earned on home sales?

Yes. But, in the case of the sale of a principal residence that qualifies for the special tax exclusion on such income, it would apply only if the net gain from the sale exceeds the $500,000 exclusion for joint filers or $250,000 for singles, and then only to the extent that taxpayer’s income exceeds the $200,000/$250,000 MAGI threshold.

Example: Lucy purchased a home in San Francisco in 1995 for $250,000. She sells it in 2013 for $750,000. She also earned $100,000 in employee wages in 2013. She earned a $500,000 profit on the sale of her home ($750,000 – $250,000 = $500,000). She qualifies for the $250,000 home sale exclusion, so she is left with $250,000 of net investment income from the sale. This, added to her wages, gives her a MAGI of $350,000 — $100,000 over the Medicare tax threshold. Therefore, she must pay $3,800 in extra Medicare taxes (3.8 percent x $100,000 = $3,800).

This new tax gives homeowners who have very substantial equity in their homes a strong incentive to sell them in 2012 before the new tax takes effect.

Tax Break for Owners Occupying A Rental Has Changed – Reprint from Inman News

The following was in today’s Inman News – written by Stephen Fishman – This is important information for those buying rental properties.

The question received was
Q. I bought a rental home three years go and have been renting it out ever since. If I move into the home now and live in it for two years and then sell it, will I qualify for the full $250,000 home-sale exclusion?

A. No. The maximum Section 121 exclusion you’ll qualify for is $100,000 (40 percent of the full $250,000 exclusion for single taxpayers).

One of the greatest boons in the tax code for the average person is the Section 121 home-sale exclusion. Homeowners who qualify for it don’t have to pay any income tax on up to $250,000 of the gain from the sale if they’re single, or up to $500,000 if they’re married filing jointly.

Qualifying for the Section 121 exclusion is simple: You just have use the home as your principal residence for at least two years of the prior five years before it’s sold.

As Section 121 was originally enacted in the 1990s, this meant that you could buy a house, rent it out for three years, live in it for two years, and then sell it and qualify for the entire Section 121 exclusion. Thus, you could avoid having to pay tax on up to $500,000 of otherwise taxable gain. And you could do this over and over again. However, those days are gone.

Section 121 was amended in 2008. For sales and exchanges after Dec. 31, 2008, gain from the sale or exchange of a principal residence allocated to periods of nonqualified use is not excluded from gross income. Nonqualified use means any period in 2009 or later where neither you nor your spouse (or your former spouse) used the property as a main home.

Example: You purchased a home on Jan. 1, 2009, and rented it out until Jan. 1, 2012, when you moved in and made it your main residence. You sell the home on Jan. 1, 2014 for a $100,000 gain. During the five years you owned the home there were three years of nonqualified use. Because three of five is 60 percent, only 40 percent of the $100,000 gain — $80,000 — can be excluded under Section 121.

However, nonqualified use does not include any portion of the five-year period in the two-out-of-five-year Section 121 exclusion that falls after the home is used as the principal residence of the taxpayer or spouse. In other words, if you live in the home and then rent it out, the periods of rental use after you lived in the home aren’t a nonqualified use and your Section 121 exclusion won’t be affected.

Stephen Fishman is a tax expert, attorney and author who has published 18 books, including “Working for Yourself: Law & Taxes for Contractors, Freelancers and Consultants,” “Deduct It,” “Working as an Independent Contractor,” and “Working with Independent Contractors.”

10 Things To Know About Mortgage Debt Forgiveness – A Reprint from Inman News 3/7/2012

This article was written by Stephen Fishman who is a tax expert, attorney and author who has published 18 books, including “Working for Yourself: Law & Taxes for Contractors, Freelancers and Consultants,” “Deduct It,” “Working as an Independent Contractor,” and “Working with Independent Contractors.” 

Anyone who has gone through foreclosure, refinancing or shortsales or will be should read this. 

10 things to know about mortgage debt forgiveness

 

Over the past several years, millions of homeowners have had billions of dollars in mortgage debt forgiven, either through foreclosure, refinancing or short sales. It’s important for real estate professionals and homeowners to understand that mortgage debt forgiveness has significant tax consequences.

Here are 10 things the Internal Revenue Service says you should know about mortgage debt forgiveness:

1. Normally, when a lender forgives a debt — that is, relieves the borrower from having to pay it back — the amount of the debt is taxable income to the borrower. Thus, a homeowner who had $100,000 in mortgage debt forgiven through a short sale would have to pay income tax on that $100,000, as an example.

Fortunately, under the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, you may be able to exclude from your taxable income up to $2 million of debt forgiven on your principal residence from 2007 through 2012. This means you don’t have to pay income tax on the forgiven debt.

2. The limit is $1 million for a married person filing a separate return.

3. You may exclude from your taxable income debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in a foreclosure.

4. To qualify, the debt must have been used to buy, build or substantially improve your principal residence and be secured by that residence.

5. The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act applies to home improvement mortgages you take out to substantially improve your principal residence — that is, they also qualify for the exclusion.

6. Second or third mortgages you used for purposes other than home improvement — for example, to pay off credit card debt — do not qualify for the exclusion.

7. If you qualify, claim the special exclusion by filling out Form 982: Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness , and attach it to your federal income tax return for the tax year in which the debt was forgiven.

8. Debt forgiven on second homes, rental property, business property, credit cards or car loans does not qualify for the tax-relief provision. In some cases, however, other tax-relief provisions — such as bankruptcy — may be applicable. IRS Form 982 provides more details about these provisions.

9. If your debt is reduced or eliminated, you normally will receive a year-end statement, Form 1099-C: Cancellation of Debt, from your lender. By law, this form must show the amount of debt forgiven and the fair market value of any property foreclosed.

10. Examine the Form 1099-C carefully. Notify the lender immediately if any of the information shown is incorrect. You should pay particular attention to the amount of debt forgiven in Box 2 as well as the value listed for your home in Box 7.

The IRS has created a highly useful Interactive Tax Assistant on its website that you can use to determine if your canceled debt is taxable. The tax assistant tool takes you through a series of questions and provides you with responses to tax law questions.

For more information about the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, see IRS Publication 4681: Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions and Abandonments. You can get it from the IRS website at irs.gov.


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