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Debt Write Off and Tax Issues

Revenue have responded to reports that mortgage debt write off may be subject to taxation . (Their reply means in most cases it won’t be taxed )

Section 5 of the Capital Acquisitions Tax Consolidation Act 2003 provides that a person is deemed to take a gift where, under or in consequence of any disposition, that person becomes beneficially entitled in possession, otherwise than on a death, to any benefit otherwise than for full consideration in money or money’s worth paid by such person.

By virtue of the definition of “disposition” in section 2 (1) CATCA 2003 the release, forfeiture, surrender or abandonment of any debt or benefit, or the failure to exercise a right may be subject to CAT in certain situations.

The Revenue ststement concludes :

Where for bona fide commercial reasons, a financial institution enters into a debt restructuring, forgiveness or write-off arrangement with a customer, Revenue’s approach, subject to being satisfied as to the bona fides of the arrangement (which may be subject to Revenue audit or enquiry) is that the financial institution is not intent on making a gift of any sort to the mortgagor/debtor – and accordingly the mortgagor/debtor would not be subject to a CAT charge in respect of any such debt restructuring, forgiveness or write-off arrangement.

This approach will only apply in the above-mentioned circumstances. In particular, should any debt restructuring, forgiveness or write-off arrangement be undertaken for the purposes of the avoidance of tax, the treatment outlined above would not apply.