Bankruptcy Tax Guide, Tax Attribute Reduction Example

The sample filled-in Form 982, Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness (and Section 1082 Basis Adjustment), is based on the following situation.

Tom Smith is in financial difficulty, but he has been able to avoid declaring bankruptcy. In 1995, he reached an agreement with his creditors, whereby they agreed to forgive $10,000 of the total that he owed them, in return for his setting up a schedule for repayment of the rest of his debts.

Immediately before the debt cancellation, Tom's liabilities totaled $120,000 and the fair market value of his assets was $100,000 (his total basis in all these assets was $90,000). At the time of the debt cancellation, he was considered insolvent by $20,000. He can exclude from income the entire $10,000 debt cancellation because it was not more than the amount by which he was insolvent.

Among Tom's assets, the only depreciable asset is a rental condominium with an adjusted basis of $50,000. Of this, $10,000 is allocable to the land, leaving a depreciable basis of $40,000. He has a long-term capital loss carryover to 1996 of $5,000. He also has a net operating loss of $2,000 and a $3,000 net operating loss carryover from 1994. He has no other tax attributes arising from the current tax year or carried to this year.

Ordinarily, in applying the $10,000 debt cancellation amount to reduce tax attributes, Tom would first reduce his $2,000 net operating loss, next his $3,000 net operating loss carryover from 1994, and then his $5,000 net capital loss carryover. However, he figures that it is better for him to preserve his loss carryovers for the next tax year.

Tom elects to reduce basis first. He can reduce the depreciable basis of his rental condominium (his only depreciable asset) by $10,000. The tax effect of doing this will be to reduce his depreciation deductions for years following the year of the debt cancellation. However, if he later sells the condominium at a gain, the part of the gain from the basis reduction will be taxable as ordinary income.

Tom must file Form 982, as shown here, with his individual return (Form 1040) for the tax year of the debt discharge. In addition, he must attach a statement describing the debt cancellation transaction and identifying the property to which the basis reduction applies. This statement is not illustrated.


Debt Cancellation


Information courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service.