When a house is foreclosed upon by the bank, the owners typically receive Form 1099-A from the lender showing several pieces of relevant information. The information on Form 1099-A will likely be needed to report the foreclosure on your tax return. A foreclosure is treated as the sale of property, and the former property owner will need to calculate their gain or loss on the property. But unlike a normal sale, there's no "selling price," and this is where the Form 1099-A comes into play. What to do with the information found on Form 1099-A has been asked by a number of readers, including "IcelandorBust," who posted this query on the message boards:
"Our home was foreclosed on in July 2009. The bank sold it to a new owner in November 2009. We received a 1099-A in January. We have not received a 1099-C. I have been unable to find a concrete answer as to what to do with the 1099-A."
Under the rules for calculating the tax consequences of a foreclosure, taxpayers will need to report the foreclosure just like it were a sale of the property. And to properly report this, you'll need to know the selling date and selling price of the property. Form 1099-A provides you with the date of sale and the "selling price" of the property, which is half the information you need to report the sale of the foreclosed property on your tax return. The other half of the information you need is the purchase date and purchase price; and that information will be found in your escrow statements from when the property was purchased.
Figuring out the "selling price" of the property is a bit complicated. The answer depends on the type of loan. Taxpayers will utilize either the fair market value of the property or the outstanding loan balance on the property for the selling price. Both of these figures are reported on Form 1099-A. The outstanding loan balance is found in Box 2; the property's fair market value is found in Box 4. The date of the foreclosure is indicated in Box 1, and this will be used as the date the property was disposed of (that is, the "sale date"). Taxpayers will also need to know if the loan was a recourse or a non-recourse loan; the loan was probably a recourse loan if the bank has checked "yes" in Box 5 which asks "Was borrower personally liable for repayment of the debt?"
People might receive multiple Forms 1099-A (one from each lender) for a single property. People might also receive Form 1099-C instead of Form 1099-A if the lender both foreclosed on the property and canceled any mortgage debt for which the borrower was personally liable.
Gain or loss is reported on Schedule D for homes that were personal residences. As a reminder, the IRS does not allow people to claim a loss on personal residences. Any gain (and I have seen situations where a foreclosure results in gain being reported) on personal residences can be offset by the capital gains exclusion for a main home.
So what do you do with Form 1099-A, exactly? First, if the foreclosed property was your personal residence, the foreclosure will be reported on Schedule D. You'll use the date of the foreclosure (found in box 1 of the 1099-A) as your date of sale. You'll need to indicate the selling price. This will be either the amount in box 2 or the amount in box 4. Which figure you'll use depends on the lending laws in the state where the property was located. You'll also need to indicate your purchase price or cost basis in the property. That information you should have in your records, usually from the HUD-1 closing statement from when you purchased the property. The difference between the selling price and your cost basis will result in your gain or loss. Gains are taxable, losses personal residences are not tax-deductible.
If the property was a rental, you'll report the same information as above, but you'll use Form 4797. I advise people who have foreclosed rental properties to seek assistance from a tax professional as there are additional factors to take into consideration, such as recapture of depreciation deductions, passive activity loss carryovers, and reporting any final rental income and expenses.
One final tip: the difference between the box 2 and box 4 amounts is not your taxable income or gain on the foreclosure. State law determines whether the amount in box 2 or the amount in box 4 is used as your selling price, and your gain or loss is computed with respect to your cost basis in the property. By itself, Form 1099-A reports only half the information you need to report the foreclosure on your tax return. You will also need information from your own records.