The Pileup Behind the Fiscal Slope, and the Consequences of Inaction

By: Friday December 21, 2012 10:23 am

Say what you will about the 2010 deal to extend the Bush tax cuts, which helped to set up what we’re seeing this month. But there was definitely a virtue in getting it done by early December, allowing for a productive lame duck session that repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, passed the New START arms reduction treaty, and several other measures. Because this entire lame duck has been consumed with fiscal slope negotiations, and really only the tax rate and social insurance part of it, bills that might have had a chance to pass through Congress if the pipeline were unclogged instead remain dormant. And unlike 2010, the bills in question in 2012 are more of the must-pass variety.

 

The Housing Cliff

By: Monday December 10, 2012 9:02 am

Forgive me if I slip into a cliff metaphor, but the employment of the tool actually makes more sense in this context. The fact is that the expiration of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, as explained by Adam Levin of Credit.com, represents a real threat to a nascent housing recovery, because it will put a deep freeze on a very large chunk of current US home sales.

Short Sales Increase As Debt Relief Tax Time Bomb Nears

By: Friday December 7, 2012 5:54 am

I’ve had more than a few assurances that Congress would get its act together and pass an extension of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, so that underwater homeowners who get some debt relief won’t have a big tax bill staring them in the face to make their financial situation even worse. But if that’s the case, you have to wonder why lenders are packing in so many short sales as we near the expiration date.

Rolling Jubilee and the Pesky Tax Problem

By: Wednesday December 5, 2012 3:01 pm

When I checked last, Rolling Jubilee had raised $456K, and hoped to use it to wipe out over $9.1 million of debt. Unfortunately, there is a risk that some debt forgiveness will be treated as income by the Internal Revenue Service. Yves Smith gives a detailed description of the problems, and urges Rolling Jubilee to spend the money it takes to hire a serious tax lawyer. I agree with her that the FAQ on the site isn’t satisfactory, and I hope the organizers will deal with the problem.

Financial Services Roundtable Joins Up With Homeowner Group to Urge Extension of Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Tax Relief

By: Thursday November 29, 2012 4:00 pm

It’s not often that the homeowner advocates at the Center for Responsible Lending and the bank lobbyists at the Financial Services Roundtable agree on anything. But they’re teaming up on urging Congress to extend the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act, which would continue the foreclosure crisis-era policy of forgiving payment of taxes on debt forgiveness like a principal reduction or a short sale.

In letters to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, which have jurisdiction over tax law, CRL and the FSR describe the debt relief law as “critical to helping homeowners and communities struggling with the ongoing foreclosure crisis.” They also note that failing to extend the law would threaten a housing recovery.

Iceland Provides Blueprint for How to Deal With the Financial Crisis

By: Tuesday February 21, 2012 7:15 pm

Debt write-downs work. They generate a wealth effect among the population, and they help to end balance-sheet recessions and bring about economic growth. What’s more, Icelandic home values came back, just 3% off their September 2008 pre-crisis level.

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