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|As Short-Sale Tax Break Nears End, Pressure Mounts on Homeowners|
|By Kimberly Miller|
| RISMEDIA, Thursday, December 27, 2012— (MCT)—The race is on to finalize short sales and seal the deal on mortgage reductions as the Dec. 31 expiration of a massive tax break for struggling homeowners looms.|
Since 2007, homeowners whose banks have forgiven unpaid mortgage debt after a short sale, principal reduction or foreclosure have not been required to count that money as income on their tax returns.
But the sunset of the federal Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act means borrowers, who have been spared tens of thousands of dollars depending on the amount forgiven and their tax bracket, may be faced with whopping IRS bills after losing their home.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is leading a group of attorneys general from around the country in lobbying for an extension of the act. In a Nov. 20 letter to lawmakers, Bondi and Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said allowing the tax break to expire would dilute the $25 billion mortgage settlement made with the nation’s five largest banks in March.
“Unless Congress acts, all of the remaining debt relief to be provided in 2013 under the National Mortgage Settlement will likely be considered taxable income,” the letter said.
Settlement monitor Joseph Smith, who oversees bank compliance with the agreement, is staying out of the fray. He says the extension is “under the purview of elected officials.”
At the same time, the Congressional Budget Office estimates extending the relief could cost $1.3 billion in lost revenue to the federal government during a period when it is “desperate for money,” says Anthony Sanders, a George Mason University real estate finance professor who is in favor of an extension.
“People are already suffering enough who go through default and foreclosure, and to suddenly give them a tax bill is incredibly cold-hearted,” Sanders says. “The government was a major contributor to the housing bubble and burst, so it’s only fair that it extend the act to help households that have been absolutely crushed by the market.”
In August, language that would extend the mortgage debt relief act was rolled into the Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012 (S.3521). The act includes about 50 tax-cutting provisions and was approved by the Senate Finance Committee in August.
An aide to finance committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., says the act is awaiting a vote by the full Senate but has not been given a calendar date.
While many economists, REALTORS® and accountants believe the mortgage debt relief will be extended, they can’t say how or when.
Sanders says it’s caught up in party politics and a debate that now includes whether to amend the mortgage-interest deduction tax break, a decades-old law that annually costs the government about $100 billion. Even if an extension to the debt relief act isn’t approved by Dec. 31, it could be voted on in 2013 and made retroactive, Sanders says.
Accountant Karyl Neal of the firm Moore, Ellrich & Neal in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., says settling mortgage debt relief is important but may be less of a priority for lawmakers than averting the fiscal cliff.
Tell that to the owners of the home at 8 Sunningdale Circle in West Palm Beach’s President Country Club, who are trying to finish a short sale before the debt relief act expires. If they don’t, they face an estimated $340,000 in forgiven debt on which they will have to pay taxes, says Shannon Brink, their REALTOR®.
“We’re scrambling like maniacs to get it closed,” Brink says. “I have some anxiety, but I’ve pulled off miracles before.”
Jeff Shingledecker listed his Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., home as a short sale in April. He considered a loan modification that would increase the term of his mortgage to 40 years but decided to do a short sale after learning about the debt relief act.
After several offers, he says he was “fortunate enough” to close the deal in October and expects to have about $108,000 of debt forgiven.
Considering Shingledecker’s tax bracket, he would have owed about $27,000 in taxes.
“If the act expires, you will be asking people to pay cash on an income they never received and with cash they don’t have,” says John DiBiase, communications director for the National Association of REALTORS®’ government affairs office. “I think that is well-understood, especially by members of the Florida delegation.”
Not everyone can benefit from the debt relief act. It covers only forgiven debt on principal residences and amounts up to $2 million, or $1 million if married but filing separately. The act also does not apply to second mortgages where the money was used for non-household expenses.
Joanne Epstein, a South Florida REALTOR®, has 18 short sales scheduled to close by Dec. 31 and she’s “breathing down the banks’ necks” to get them finalized.
“They say, ‘We have a stack of files. We’re very busy. We’ll get back to you,’ ” Epstein says. “Well, I’m sorry — that doesn’t work. These people need to get this over with so they can move on with their lives.”
DEBT RELIEF ACT Q&A:
QUESTION: What’s happening?
ANSWER: The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 is scheduled to expire Dec. 31.
Q: Who’s affected?
A: If no extension is granted, homeowners will have to pay taxes on any unpaid balance forgiven by a lender after a short sale, modification or foreclosure. The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act excludes that income from being taxed through Dec. 31.
Q: What’s happening?
A: Congress is considering extending the act, but it could cost the federal government $1.3 billion in lost revenue.
Q: What’s next?
A: A bill called the Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012 has been approved by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and is slated for a vote in the full Senate.
©2012 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services
Copyright© 2012 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission.
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NAPLES, Fla. (December 3, 2012) – For the 12th consecutive year, the Franklin
Templeton Shootout comes to Southwest Florida and 24 individuals will compete as
12 two-man teams. The event is celebrating its 24th year on the PGA TOUR
calendar. Here are some notes regarding what has become a favorite annual
gathering for professionals and amateurs:|
2012 PGA TOUR Champions: Ten of the players in the field have won in 2012: Keegan Bradley, Mark Calcavecchia (Champions Tour), Jason Dufner, Rickie Fowler, Dustin Johnson, Kenny Perry (Champions Tour), Carl Pettersson, Ian Poulter, Brandt Snedeker and Steve Stricker. Dufner and Snedeker are multiple 2012 winners, giving this group a total of twelve wins this year.
Major Champions: Eight players have won major championship titles during their careers—Keegan Bradley, Mark Calcavecchia, Stewart Cink, Justin Leonard, Davis Love III, Greg Norman, Vijay Singh and Mike Weir.
Total # of PGA TOUR Victories: As a group, the 24 players in the field have accumulated 183 PGA TOUR victories during their respective careers. Vijay Singh leads in individual titles with 34 while Greg Norman and Davis Love III have 20 each.
World Rankings: Six players in the field are ranked among the top 20 in the world—Jason Dufner (8), Brandt Snedeker (10), Ian Poulter (12), Steve Stricker (14), Keegan Bradley (15) and Dustin Johnson (19).
Ryder Cup: With this being a Ryder Cup year, it is worth noting that seven individuals in the field this week participated in the biennial match between the U.S. and Europe teams in late September. Competing this week from the U.S. Team will be Davis Love III, the U.S. Team Captain, along with Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner, Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker and Steve Stricker. Representing the winning European Team is Ian Poulter. Scott Verplank was one of Love’s assistant captains.
Top-Five Finishes: Host Greg Norman and Mark O’Meara share the all-time record for the most top-five finishes by individuals in the Shootout with nine each. The team with the most top-five finishes in tournament history is O’Meara and Curtis Strange. This twosome accumulated five solid performances between 1989 and 1996 including a victory in the inaugural Shootout.
International Flavor: Seven different countries will be represented this week at the Franklin Templeton Shootout—Australia, Canada, England, Fiji, South Africa, Sweden and United States.
States Represented: Looking at the birthplace of all 24 players, here are the states represented this week—Alabama, California (2), Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Nebraska, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin (2).
Double-Defending Champions: For the first time in Shootout history, two teams will be defending a title this week, per se. 2011 champions Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele are back to defend in a normal calendar year. Meanwhile, 2010 champions Ian Poulter and Dustin Johnson are also returning as a team after missing last year due to scheduling conflicts by both players.
First-Time Shootout Participants: Five individuals will be competing in their first Shootout: Bud Cauley, Carl Pettersson, Vijay Singh, Brandt Snedeker and Fredrik Jacobson.
First Time As Teammates: Eight of the 12 teams in this year’s shootout will be together for the first time—Greg Norman & Fredrik Jacobson, Jason Dufner & Vijay Singh, Stewart Cink & Carl Pettersson, Davis Love III & Brandt Snedeker, Bud Cauley & Rickie Fowler, Charles Howell III & Rory Sabbatini, Mark Calcavecchia & Mike Weir and Sean O’Hair & Kenny Perry.
Repeat Pairings: Four teams in this year’s Shootout have been paired together prior to this year. Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker, both born in Wisconsin, will be playing together for the fifth straight year. This twosome won in 2009. Justin Leonard and Scott Verplank, both born in Texas, will be paired for the fourth time in the past six years. In 2006, they lost in a playoff and in 2009 finished tied for second. Keegan Bradley and Brandon Steele compete as defending champions. 2010 champions Dustin Johnson and Ian Poulter are also together again.
Most Partners: Mark Calcavecchia will be playing with his 12th different partner. Calcavecchia has only played with four competitors more than once—Steve Elkington, Andrew Magee, Loren Roberts and Woody Austin. On the flip-side, tournament host Greg Norman has played with the same partner a total of 16 times--Jack Nicklaus (3), Nick Price (2), Raymond Floyd (2), Steve Elkington (7) and Scott McCarron (2).
Rookie Winners: Only nine players have won the Franklin Templeton Shootout in their first attempt: Mark O’Meara (1989), Curtis Strange (1989), Fred Couples (1990), Scott McCarron (1997), Hank Kuehne (2003), Rod Pampling (2006), Woody Austin (2007), Keegan Bradley (2011) and Brendan Steele (2011).
Margin of Victory: Historically, the Franklin Templeton Shootout has always been a close competition. In the past 23 years, there have been four playoffs, seven victories by one stroke and six wins by two strokes. In fact, since the tournament moved to Naples, the margin of victory has only been greater than two strokes twice--last year when Keegan Bradley and Brendan Steele won by three and when Scott Hoch and Kenny Perry won by four in 2008.
|Housing Data Wrap-Up: October 2012 Wells Fargo Securities Reports...|
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