Thursday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Cheated by student loan ‘Debt Relief” firm? What you should do. Also in the news: Rules rollback won’t keep defrauded student borrowers from loan forgiveness, 3 costly mistakes beginning investors make, and what to give and spend during Wedding Season.

Cheated By Student Loan ‘Debt Relief’ Firm? What To Do
Important steps to take.

Rule Rollback Won’t Keep Defrauded Student Borrowers From Loan Forgiveness
A little good news.

3 Costly Mistakes Beginning Investors Make
Ignore stock tips.

Weddings: What to give, what not to give, how much to spend
Wedding season is underway!

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Today’s top story: Dodge these 5 tax mistakes. Also in the news: How to pay for expensive transgender surgeries, how to lower your energy bill, and the rare instances when student loans can be forgiven.

Dodge These 5 Tax Mistakes
Common mistakes to avoid.

How to Pay for Expensive Transgender Surgeries
Exploring the options.

How to Lower Your Energy Bill
Examining the physics behind your energy use.

These Are the Rare Instances in Which Student Loans Can Be Forgiven
Very rare.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

refinancingToday’s top story: What the recent Fed rate hike means for your adjustable-rate mortgage. Also in the news: One state moves to forgive student loans, how to write ironclad financial resolutions, and how to supercharge your retirement savings.

Is It Time to Refinance Your Adjustable-Rate Mortgage?
What the recent Fed increase means for your rate.

If you live in this state, you could have your student loans forgiven
Are you one of the lucky ones?

Your Guide to Writing Ironclad Financial New Year’s Resolutions
Small steps to big goals.

How to supercharge your retirement savings
Learning from the experts.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

Student-LoansToday’s top story: Little known ways to get your student loans forgiven. Also in the news: What to do when you can’t pay your taxes on time, tools that can help you build wealth for the future, and great ideas for you tax refund.

5 Little-Known Ways to Get Your Student Loans Forgiven
Do you qualify?

When You Can’t Pay Your Taxes On Time
Ignoring them will only make matters worse.

5 Tools That Can Help You Build Wealth for the Future
Looking at the long term.

11 Great Ideas for Your Tax Refund
The $10,000 Apple Watch isn’t one of them.

Q&A: Student loan forgiveness and taxes

Dear Liz: You recently wrote about student loan forgiveness. After 15 years as a public defender, my wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and could no longer pursue her career as a lawyer. She applied for forgiveness of the federal student loans she used to attend law school. About three years later, the loans were forgiven. The caveat is that she was required to pay income taxes based on the balance that was erased. The taxes amounted to $63,000. Getting the loan forgiven was easy compared with coughing up the money for the IRS. I thought this should be mentioned.

Answer: The IRS generally considers forgiven or canceled debt as income to the borrower. There are several exceptions, however.

Borrowers don’t have to pay income taxes on student loans forgiven through programs that require them to work for a specific number of years in a certain profession. So public service loan forgiveness, law school repayment assistance, teacher loan forgiveness and the National Health Service Corps’ loan repayment program won’t trigger taxes. Forgiven debt also may be excluded from income if the borrower was insolvent at the time.

Student loan discharges for death, disability, closed schools, false certification and unpaid refunds typically are considered taxable income, however. Forgiveness of remaining balances under income-based repayment programs after 20 or 25 years of payment is also considered taxable.

The taxes owed will be a percentage of the amount forgiven, based on your tax bracket. If you’re in the 25% federal bracket, for example, you’d pay $25,000 for $100,000 of forgiven debt, plus any state and local income taxes. It’s less than the tab you owed, of course, but as you note it can still be a tough bill to pay.