Sen. Cannella Announces New Legislation to Provide Tax Relief to Homeowners

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) today announced SB 339, legislation that will provide tax relief for homeowners who have received home loan modifications in 2013. Under current law, those receiving modifications would have to report the amount of debt forgiven by a lender due to a principal reduction as taxable income. The bill is sponsored by the California Bankers Association and has received bipartisan support, with Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced) as principal co-author.

“Our region was at the epicenter of California’s housing market collapse and is still rebounding from the effects,” said Cannella. “SB 339 will ensure that state law conforms to federal law, and families who have had their mortgage restructured will not be penalized.”

Previously, California law provided homeowners who received a principal reduction the same tax relief provided by the federal Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007. Since the state law expired in 2013, California homeowners will owe state income tax on the amount of forgiven debt. The state’s three largest servicers provided more than 84,000 Californians principal reductions, forgiving more than $9 billion dollars in mortgage debt from April 2012 through August 2013, according to the California Monitor, which tracks progress on the national mortgage settlement for the California Attorney General’s Office. Without legislative action, thousands of Californians could easily be elevated into a higher tax bracket for income tax purposes based upon forgiven mortgage debt.

“Taxing those who are trying to make ends meet and stay in their homes makes absolutely no sense,” said Gray. “I am happy to co-author a bipartisan bill which prevents punishing homeowners who are still recovering from the downturn in the housing market.”

For the counties of the 12th Senate District, SB 339 will provide important tax relief for 3,500 mortgages that have received modifications from the state’s three largest servicers, reflecting nearly $400 million in principal reductions.