In today’s economic environment, many people are struggling to find financing for debt consolidation, home purchases, or education funding. Lending money to a friend or relative can be a personally and financially rewarding endeavor, but it is critical that you formalize the loan and understand the tax ramifications of lending money.
The Internal Revenue Service is the ultimate authority on the tax implications of lending in a personal loan. If you have any special questions not covered in this article, you should contact a local accountant for advice or visit the IRS website.
If you are the lender in a personal loan, your reporting requirements to the IRS are pretty straightforward. Any interest received from a personal loan must be included as ‘Interest Income’ on your Schedule B, which is a tax form to be filled out along with your 1040 income tax return. If you use LoanBack to formalize your personal loan we will provide you with simple reports that clearly show the total amount of interest you have received on a personal loan.
It is important to select an interest rate that is close to current market rates. A below-market rate loan can trigger the imputed interest rules. The Internal Revenue Service publishes monthly Applicable Federal Rates, or AFR, which are available on LoanBack’s Key Interest Rates page.
The AFR rates are the minimum interest rates that parties may use in order for the transaction to be considered a loan. Otherwise, the foregone interest generated by the difference between the accepted rate and the lower rate will be treated as if actually paid and received. This situation could have income tax or gift tax consequences. Demand loans require the AFR as listed in the schedule for short term. The rates for a term loan must come from either the short-, mid-, or long-term chart, depending on the term of the loan.
For related party loans, the Internal Revenue Service considers any departure from market rates to be a gift. Care must be taken that the amount of forgone interest from the borrower plus other gifts to the borrower does not exceed the annual exclusion amount. In 2009 the annual gift exclusion is $13,000 to each individual. For example, if a father gifts $10,000 cash to his son and forgives interest of $3,000 owed on a loan he gave his son, he has no gift tax consequences. This case assumes there are no other gifts for the year to this individual. If the lender has a spouse there is a possibility to gift more. If the annual gifting exclusion amount is not exceeded, neither lender nor borrower has filing requirements under gift tax law. In addition, the gift tax rules do not apply to certain exceptions. The first exception is a de minimus loan, which is one under $10,000, and is excepted as long as the loan is not used to buy income-producing assets like stock. The second exception is a loan under $100,000 to a borrower with less than $1,000 in investment income.
It is critical that a lender keeps good records of their loan transaction in the event of an IRS audits. A clear record of payments made and a signed promissory note can help a lender prove that the transaction was a legitimate loan and not a monetary gift. In the event that your loan goes bad you might also be able to claim a ‘Bad Debt Deduction’ on your taxes. Again, you will need to have a clear record of your loan in order to qualify for this deduction. According to the IRS, “For a bad debt, you must show that there was an intention at the time of the transaction to make a loan and not a gift.” Using LoanBack to formalize your loan will provide you with everything you need to document your loan for future reference.