December 8, 2023

Are Debt Collection Settlements Taxable?

Debt collection settlements are one way to resolve outstanding debts with creditors. However, many people wonder whether these settlements are taxable or not. In this article, we will explore the tax implications of debt collection settlements and provide answers to some frequently asked questions.

What Is a Debt Collection Settlement?

A debt collection settlement is an agreement between a debtor and a creditor to resolve an outstanding debt. The settlement typically involves the debtor paying a portion of the debt owed, and the creditor forgiving the rest. Debt collection settlements are often used as a way to avoid bankruptcy and to resolve debts that are in collections.

Are Debt Collection Settlements Taxable?

The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the type of debt, the amount of the settlement, and the debtor’s tax situation. In general, debt collection settlements are considered taxable income by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if the forgiven amount exceeds $600.


For example, if you owe $10,000 on a credit card and settle the debt for $5,000, the creditor may issue a Form 1099-C to the IRS, indicating that $5,000 of debt was forgiven. This forgiven amount would be considered taxable income to you, and you would need to report it on your tax return.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If the debt was discharged in bankruptcy, the forgiven amount is not considered taxable income. Additionally, if the debt was forgiven due to insolvency (meaning your total liabilities exceed your assets), you may be able to exclude the forgiven amount from your taxable income.

How Do You Report Debt Collection Settlements on Your Tax Return?

If you receive a Form 1099-C for a debt collection settlement, you will need to report the forgiven amount on your tax return. You should receive the form by January 31st of the year following the settlement.

To report the forgiven amount, you will need to file Form 982, which is used to reduce the amount of taxable income due to debt forgiveness. You will need to attach this form to your tax return and provide a detailed explanation of your situation.

What Are the Consequences of Failing to Report Debt Collection Settlements?

Failing to report debt collection settlements can result in penalties and interest charges from the IRS. Additionally, the IRS may take legal action to collect the taxes owed, including garnishing wages or seizing assets. It is important to accurately report all debt collection settlements to avoid these consequences.


In summary, debt collection settlements are generally considered taxable income if the forgiven amount exceeds $600. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, such as if the debt was discharged in bankruptcy or if you were insolvent at the time of the settlement. If you receive a Form 1099-C for a debt collection settlement, you should report the forgiven amount on your tax return and file Form 982 to reduce your taxable income. As always, it is important to consult with a tax professional if you have any questions or concerns about debt collection settlements and taxes.

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