Do you owe tax on the canceled debt?

It might interest you to know that one in three Americans has outstanding debt. When a lender cancels an amount owed, it is a canceled debt. In effect, you will pay the lender less than the amount you owe.

For example, suppose you owe a lender $300,000 and own a property worth $250,000. The lender may sell the property to recover $250,000 and then forgive you for the remaining $50,000. The debt of $50,000 is cancelled. The question, however, is this: do you owe tax on the forgiven debt?

In this article, we discuss more regarding tax on canceled debt.

Canceled debt

Once your lender has canceled your debt, they must file a 1099-C Debt Cancellation Form if the debt exceeds $600. After you complete this form with the IRS, they will send you a copy. The form shows the amount canceled and interest forgiven on the debt. In some cases, they may not need to include the interest as part of your taxable income.

If you repay part of the canceled debt, you have the mandate to claim a refund for any tax you paid on the debt. When your creditor cancels a debt partially or entirely, you no longer need to make monthly payments, but you may have to pay taxes on the canceled debt, as you will learn on

When is a canceled debt taxable?

If you have recently obtained a debt forgiveness, it is essential to know if it is taxable or not. When your lender cancels your debt, it is taxable if you don’t qualify for an exemption. You will pay tax on any forgiven debt over $600, as it is considered taxable income. However, there are certain tax exclusions and exceptions for forgiven debt.

When your canceled or forgiven debt is not included in your taxable income, this is considered an exception. In other cases, the debt can be reduced or lowered but not eliminated; in this case, it is about debt exclusions. When filing your tax forms, you must apply exceptions before exclusions. As a taxpayer, you can eliminate the following types of debt from your taxable income:

  • Bequests and donations
  • Reduced price after buying the property
  • Specific student loans, for example, teachers, nurses and doctors working in rural or low-income areas
  • A deductible debt, for example, mortgage interest


Some debts can be reduced or lowered, but you must file them as an exclusion using Form 982. They include:

  • Debt repayment through bankruptcy
  • When settling a qualifying principal residence debt
  • Reimbursement of the debt of an insolvent taxpayer
  • Repayment of qualified real estate commercial debt and non-qualified agricultural debt

It is advisable to consult a certified tax expert with experience in debt settlement to understand the exceptions and exclusions when receiving the remittance. Depending on the situation and the type of debt, you can minimize or completely eliminate the inclusion of forgiven debt in your taxable income.

Tax consequences of debt forgiveness

A debt forgiveness can be a great relief for your financial resources. But remember that getting the right information about the type of debt and its impact on your income is essential. For example, when you are forgiven or discharged, you must report the unpaid debt to the IRS as part of your taxable income. This can mean a higher tax bill.

Before applying for debt forgiveness, it is essential to understand whether the debt is taxable or not.

Demystifying Debt Forgiveness with Experts

Do you owe tax on canceled debt? Debt cancellation can be a great relief, especially if you are struggling to repay debt. On the other hand, ignoring your debts can have negative consequences on your credit status. Either way, it is important to understand the tax implications of credit relief. The smart game here is to consult a debt relief professional or tax professional to help you determine your liability.

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