How to bounce back after bankruptcy?


Can you bounce back after bankruptcy?
I have been asked many times what would be the life after bankruptcy and how the debtors can reestablish their credit again and acquire credit again. Of course, it would be difficult and time consuming, but it is not impossible. Soon after the discharge of bankruptcy, one start getting offers from credit card companies and a secured credit card is an ideal form for reestablishing credit. Actually, almost anyone can get credit soon after a bankruptcy. It’s just a matter of knowing how and what steps to take. Of course, bankruptcy deals a devastating blow to your credit and your credit score, the three-digit number lenders use to gauge your credit-worthiness. your FICO is at the bottom of scores, but you should not be discouraged by this devasating score. Of course, you can build it slowly and surely. But the effects don’t have to be lasting. Long before the bankruptcy drops off your credit report, you could be qualifying for loans with good rates and terms. I still consider FICO a fiction but it still runs your credit life, and all the lenders use this tool all the time. So, it is an important yardstick.

Nothing in credit remains forever. A bankruptcy legally can remain on your credit report for up to 10 years, but its effect on your credit score can start to diminish the day your case is closed — if you adopt responsible credit habits such as paying your bills on time, using only a small portion of your available credit and not applying for too much credit at once. Well, to start, one must learn some lesson, some financial education after declaring bankruptcy and devise a saner financial course. The days of wasteful expenditure should be gone forever and one must always learn new tools, education, train, or get a professional training to acquire more money. Of course, if you become wealthier, it may solve lots of your financial problems.

You may live on cash for quite some time and paying by cash is a good habit, but still one has to use credit. Afterall, we live in a credit society and we have to travle, hire a cab or rent a car and buy grocery sometime on credit cards. You have to get and use credit to build your credit score. But if you want to rebuild your credit score, you can’t sit on the sidelines.

Did you ever try to make a budget? Of course a written budge, and not something on whims only. No technical knowledge is required. Simply write one page all sources of your income and on the next page write faithfully all of your expenditure, and see why there is so much widespread deficit in both. Why can’t you balance the budget and live a healthy life.
Of course it is time to clean up your credit report. You may find someone who can help you or you can write simple letters to all the credit bureaus. Possibly, your credit report may still show some of the delinquencies which ought to have been wiped out but still lingering there like a bad dream. Also, if you have other serious mistakes on your credit report, those need to be corrected as well. Your credit score is based on information in your credit report, so errors on your report can seriously dampen your score.

How to write a hardship letter?


By Malik Ahmad, Attorney at Law

(No copy rights reserved: Use it extensively with your own revision at your own risk, just send me an email of acknowledgement. No legal advice is meant and provided here]

[Malik Ahmad is a Las Vegas Attorney having his own law office. He can be reached at Malik11397@aol.com. He is admitted to all the courts in the state of Nevada. His areas of practice include real estate, bankruptcy and loan modification].

By far writing and inclusion of a hardship letter is a must (a sine quo nun to use the legal lingo) and most sought after requirement by your lenders. This hardship letter does not require and asking for the best English language writing skills but at least it mandates a strong composition which details all the hardship you are presently suffering. Give them a laundry list of all the economic problems you have. Don’t make it too long. A synopsis is enough. Here, in this brief article I am going to touch all those spots on which your lender may base its loan modification decision. Remember, the other supporting documents your lender requires are: (1) the bank statements; (2) the tax record for two years and (3) the paystubs. Almost every lender requires this hardship letter. Here, I am giving first all the hardship points which may or may not be required and suitable in each and every case, but which you can edit to suit your particular needs.

1. Hardship about yourself:

You are telling your own story. Write like a story.

“I had a continuous job at the IBM for the last 7 years, and the company shut down the local plant. Consequently, I was laid off from work. I have been looking for work for quite some time. Initially, I was drawing unemployment compensation, but since last few weeks (or months) I have ran out of this compensation. I almost send my resume to various employers. Due to the current hardship, I am not getting many responses.

“We barely are making our normal household expenses. If you look at our history of mortgage payments, you would see that we had a pattern of timely payments on our mortgage since originally we bought this home in 1999. It is only three months ago when we were first delinquent. We though we would catch up. Initially, we borrowed from our lines of equity, but that has been cut down and now frozen by our bank. We do not like to borrow from family and friends at this time.”

2. About Your Family:

“Luckily, my wife is still employed. She is employed as a registered nurse at the local hospital. She used to work overtime, but because of the depressing conditions, the hospital had cut down her overtime. Additionally, she worked part time but recently the County had laid down its benefit program for the indigent”.

“We had lately an extended family in our home as parents of my wife had joined us. My 82 mother in law is in frail health accompanied by my 92 years old father in law. Presently, both are living with because they rural place where they lived had no modern medical facilities. My mother in law is suffering from Alzheimer. My wife had to take her quite often to the local professional medical offices. They had to go at least three times a week. Even though our in laws sometime contribute in household things but largely we bear the expenses.”

“Unfortunately, our 10 year old son was diagnosed with the disease of the liver. We had to buy the latest medicine which is not covered by our health plan, and there is no generic substitute of these medicines. We had to spend an upward of $300 every month on these medicines.”

“We had recently borrowed $20,000 from our pension and which was spent on paying all the old bills. We ran out this money quickly, and now the Pension Fund has placed severe restrictions on any more withdrawal.”

“My wife who worked as a registered nurse in the local hospital always wanted to pursue a master degree in public health administration (MBA, Public Administration, Nurse Practitioner etc). She has enrolled in the University of Nevada in their master program where one more year has left in her completion. She likes to become a university nursing teacher. Our expenses are quadrupled because of her enrollment and doing lesser numbers of hours at her regular employment”.

“I am enrolled in an MBA Program in the University of Phoenix (CPA, Law school, chef school, auto technician course, vocation schools etc). It is night program which is extended to 4 years degree program. I have almost finished the first two years. It was a wise expenditure of my savings as I was expecting a promotion in the place of my work. Hopefully, someday I would be rewarded for this hard work.”

3. General Situation:

“We had a lower interest rate initially for the first two years. We had a good FICO score and always though that we can get better interest rate. Our loan officer promised us that once we are entrenched in our home for some time, we would be eligible for better interest rate. We had not seen any better interest rate other than the fact that these interests are constantly rising. We used to pay a payment of $1650 per month, which was increased for an upward adjustment to $1850 and now since the last three months had gone up to $2450. This is an exorbitant amount which unfortunately we cannot pay. There is a choice to either pay for the basic necessities of life or pay just the mortgage only. We had also seen a sharp increase in our utilities bill including the cost of transportation. Furthermore, my commute time has been increased due to our work place relocated in far off place from my home.”

“Our loan officer always told us that our interest rate is locked at 5% percent. We were shocked when our attorney friend came to our home for a social function and we showed him our escrow papers. According to him, there are quite a few violations of RESPA and TILA. We were never provided a copy of the good faith estimate. We were not provided this entire disclosure certificate under TILA. Our attorney friend had told us that in his opinion we are a victim of some predatory lending practices, and that we should seek an immediate legal help. He also told us to seek some forensic loan audit.”

“We are not litigious people. At this time we are requesting a loan modification with a significant decrease in our interest rate as well as a reduction in our principal balance. We are not delinquent kind of people. We like this home, and like to continue staying here. This has been a part of our American Dream. Our economic hardship is temporary and hopefully would resolve in next few years. At this time we are requesting a loan modification with a significant decrease in our interest rate as well principal. Interest rates are historically low and your bank had also accepted federal bailout money. We do not anticipate another loan modification, and if this done right we would abide by all the terms and conditions set by it.

What is mortgage forgiveness Act?


The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 generally allows taxpayers to exclude income from the discharge of debt on their principal residence. Debt reduced through mortgage restructuring, as well as mortgage debt forgiven in connection with a foreclosure, qualify for this relief.

This provision applies to debt forgiven in calendar years 2007 through 2012. Up to $2 million of forgiven debt is eligible for this exclusion ($1 million if married filing separately). The exclusion doesn’t apply if the discharge is due to services performed for the lender or any other reason not directly related to a decline in the home’s value or the taxpayer’s financial condition.

The amount excluded reduces the taxpayer’s cost basis in the home. More details. Further information, including detailed examples, can also be found in Publication 4681, Canceled Debts, Foreclosures, Repossessions, and Abandonments.

The questions and answers, below, are based on the law prior to the passage of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007.

1. What is Cancellation of Debt?

If you borrow money from a commercial lender and the lender later cancels or forgives the debt, you may have to include the cancelled amount in income for tax purposes, depending on the circumstances. When you borrowed the money you were not required to include the loan proceeds in income because you had an obligation to repay the lender. When that obligation is subsequently forgiven, the amount you received as loan proceeds is reportable as income because you no longer have an obligation to repay the lender. The lender is usually required to report the amount of the canceled debt to you and the IRS on a Form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt.

Here’s a very simplified example. You borrow $10,000 and default on the loan after paying back $2,000. If the lender is unable to collect the remaining debt from you, there is a cancellation of debt of $8,000, which generally is taxable income to you.

2. Is Cancellation of Debt income always taxable?

Not always. There are some exceptions. The most common situations when cancellation of debt income is not taxable involve:

Bankruptcy: Debts discharged through bankruptcy are not considered taxable income.
Insolvency: If you are insolvent when the debt is cancelled, some or all of the cancelled debt may not be taxable to you.You are insolvent when your total debts are more than the fair market value of your total assets.Insolvency can be fairly complex to determine and the assistance of a tax professional is recommended if you believe you qualify for this exception.
Certain farm debts:If you incurred the debt directly in operation of a farm, more than half your income from the prior three years was from farming, and the loan was owed to a person or agency regularly engaged in lending, your cancelled debt is generally not considered taxable income.The rules applicable to farmers are complex and the assistance of a tax professional is recommended if you believe you qualify for this exception.
Non-recourse loans:A non-recourse loan is a loan for which the lender’s only remedy in case of default is to repossess the property being financed or used as collateral.That is, the lender cannot pursue you personally in case of default.Forgiveness of a non-recourse loan resulting from a foreclosure does not result in cancellation of debt income.However, it may result in other tax consequences, as discussed in Question 3 below.

3. I lost my home through foreclosure. Are there tax consequences?

There are two possible consequences you must consider:

Taxable cancellation of debt income.(Note: As stated above, cancellation of debt income is not taxable in the case of non-recourse loans.)
A reportable gain from the disposition of the home (because foreclosures are treated like sales for tax purposes).(Note: Often some or all of the gain from the sale of a personal residence qualifies for exclusion from income.)
Use the following steps to compute the income to be reported from a foreclosure:

Step 1 - Figuring Cancellation of Debt Income (Note: For non-recourse loans, skip this section. You have no income from cancellation of debt.)

1. Enter the total amount of the debt immediately prior to the foreclosure.___________
2. Enter the fair market value of the property from Form 1099-C, box 7. ___________
3. Subtract line 2 from line 1.If less than zero, enter zero.___________

The amount on line 3 will generally equal the amount shown in box 2 of Form 1099-C. This amount is taxable unless you meet one of the exceptions in question 2. Enter it on line 21, Other Income, of your Form 1040.

Step 2 – Figuring Gain from Foreclosure

4. Enter the fair market value of the property foreclosed.For non-recourse loans, enter the amount of the debt immediately prior to the foreclosure ________
5. Enter your adjusted basis in the property.(Usually your purchase price plus the cost of any major improvements.) ____________
6. Subtract line 5 from line 4. If less than zero, enter zero.

The amount on line 6 is your gain from the foreclosure of your home. If you have owned and used the home as your principal residence for periods totaling at least two years during the five year period ending on the date of the foreclosure, you may exclude up to $250,000 (up to $500,000 for married couples filing a joint return) from income. If you do not qualify for this exclusion, or your gain exceeds $250,000 ($500,000 for married couples filing a joint return), report the taxable amount on Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses.

4. I lost money on the foreclosure of my home. Can I claim a loss on my tax return?

No. Losses from the sale or foreclosure of personal property are not deductible.

5. Can you provide examples?

A borrower bought a home in August 2005 and lived in it until it was taken through foreclosure in September 2007. The original purchase price was $170,000, the home is worth $200,000 at foreclosure, and the mortgage debt canceled at foreclosure is $220,000. At the time of the foreclosure, the borrower is insolvent, with liabilities (mortgage, credit cards, car loans and other debts) totaling $250,000 and assets totaling $230,000.

The borrower figures income from the foreclosure as follows:

Use the following steps to compute the income to be reported from a foreclosure:

Step 1 – Figuring Cancellation of Debt Income (Note: For non-recourse loans, skip this section. You have no income from cancellation of debt.)

1. Enter the total amount of the debt immediately prior to the foreclosure.___$220,000__
2. Enter the fair market value of the property from Form 1099-C, box 7. ___$200,000__
3. Subtract line 2 from line 1.If less than zero, enter zero.___$20,000__

The amount on line 3 will generally equal the amount shown in box 2 of Form 1099-C. This amount is taxable unless you meet one of the exceptions in question 2. Enter it on line 21, Other Income, of your Form 1040.

Step 2 – Figuring Gain from Foreclosure

4. Enter the fair market value of the property foreclosed.For non-recourse loans, enter the amount of the debt immediately prior to the foreclosure. __$200,000__
5. Enter your adjusted basis in the property.(Usually your purchase price plus the cost of any major improvements.) ___$170,000__
6. Subtract line 5 from line 4.If less than zero, enter zero.___$30,000__

The amount on line 6 is your gain from the foreclosure of your home. If you have owned and used the home as your principal residence for periods totaling at least two years during the five year period ending on the date of the foreclosure, you may exclude up to $250,000 (up to $500,000 for married couples filing a joint return) from income. If you do not qualify for this exclusion, or your gain exceeds $250,000 ($500,000 for married couples filing a joint return), report the taxable amount on Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses.

In this situation, the borrower has a tax-free home-sale gain of $30,000 ($200,000 minus $170,000), because they owned and lived in their home as a principal residence for at least two years. Ordinarily, the borrower would also have taxable debt-forgiveness income of $20,000 ($220,000 minus $200,000). But since the borrower’s liabilities exceed assets by $20,000 ($250,000 minus $230,000) there is no tax on the canceled debt.

Other examples can be found in IRS Publication 544, Sales and Other Dispositions of Assets, under the section “Foreclosures and Repossessions”.

6. I don’t agree with the information on the Form 1099-C. What should I do?

Contact the lender. The lender should issue a corrected form if the information is determined to be incorrect. Retain all records related to the purchase of your home and all related debt.

7. I received a notice from the IRS on this. What should I do?

The IRS urges borrowers with questions to call the phone number shown on the notice. The IRS also urges borrowers who wind up owing additional tax and are unable to pay it in full to use the installment agreement form, normally included with the notice, to request a payment agreement with the agency.

8. Where else can I go to get tax help?

If you are having difficulty resolving a tax problem (such as one involving an IRS bill, letter or notice) through normal IRS channels, the Taxpayer Advocate Service may be able to help. For more information, you can also call the TAS toll-free case intake line at 1-877-777-4778, TTY/TDD 1-800-829-4059.

In some cases, you may qualify for free or low-cost assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC). LITCs are independent organizations that represent low income taxpayers in tax disputes with the IRS. Find information on an LITCs in your area.