REQUIRED READING | Gone, but not forgotten: Canceled debt


REQUIRED READING | Gone, but not forgotten: Canceled debt

REQUIRED READING | Gone, but not forgotten: Canceled debt

The bleeding just does not stop.


Like former lovers who send you friend requests on Facebook, old debts can come back to haunt you.

But while you can ignore old flames, you can’t dismiss past debts, even if your lender forgave them. Debts that were canceled or forgiven are considered taxable income – something many taxpayers don’t realize until they receive a 1099-C tax from their lenders.

During the Great Recession, lenders wrote off billions of dollars of credit card debts deemed uncollectible. Now, the tax bills on that debt are coming due. The IRS estimates that creditors will send taxpayers 6.4 million 1099-C tax forms this year, up from 3.9 million in 2010.

The appearance of an unexpected tax bill “creates a financial nightmare for people who have already been through financial hell,” says Gerri Detweiler, personal finance expert for

Fortunately, if unemployment or other financial calamities forced you to default on your debts, there’s a good chance you won’t have to pay the tax bill. You qualify for an exemption from taxes on forgiven debt if:


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