Tax season is a time of year many people dread, and it’s easy to see why. With so many variables and forms to fill out, it can feel overwhelming.
One question that may cross your mind is how personal loans factor into all of this. Do they count as income? Are they taxable? Is the interest deductible?
These are important questions, especially if you’ve taken out a personal loan in the past year.
We’ve put together this quick article to help guide you through personal loans and their tax implications.
We promise to keep it simple and clear so that by the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what you need to consider as you complete your tax return.
Disclaimer: When it comes to taxes, we always advise that you meet with a tax advisor to ensure that your taxes are done correctly according to your unique situation. This article is not tax advice.
Are Personal Loans Considered Income?
When you borrow money, it can be easy to confuse the cash influx as income. After all, your bank account balance goes up, right? But the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sees it differently.
A personal loan isn’t money you’ve earned; it’s money you’re obligated to pay back, otherwise known as a liability.
So, no, personal loans are not viewed as taxable income. It’s like borrowing money from a friend—you’ll need to pay it back eventually, but it doesn’t make you “richer” in the eyes of the IRS.
Knowing that your personal loan is not considered income can relieve some stress when filing your return. This means you won’t have to report it when you file your income tax return. In layman’s terms, your personal loan won’t make your bill go up.
While you don’t need to report the loan, it’s still a good idea to keep all documentation related to it. Loan agreements, payment records, and any communication with your lender could come in handy, especially if questions arise later on.
Compare Top Lenders
Get cash not rejected
Compare Top Lenders
How to Deal With Loan Forgiveness
You may have heard stories or even seen ads about “loan forgiveness.” Sounds pretty great, right? But here’s the catch: if a part of your personal loan gets forgiven, that amount could be considered as taxable income. Yep, the IRS could want a slice of that pie.
What is Loan Forgiveness?
Loan forgiveness happens when you’re no longer required to pay back all or a portion of a loan you owe. This is typically rare for personal loans but can occur in certain circumstances like bankruptcy or negotiating with a lender.
When a loan is forgiven, you’re basically off the hook for paying it back. But to the IRS the forgiven amount is considered money you’ve gained, or income. So, you’ll have to report it as income on your return.
The 1099-C Form
If you find yourself in this situation, your lender will send you a 1099-C form. This is the official paper trail to prove that you no longer owe the lender, but it’s also the form you’ll need when you file your return to report the forgiven amount.
Can You Deduct Personal Loan Interest from Your Taxes?
You may be familiar with deducting interest payments for certain types of loans like mortgages and student loans. But what about personal loans?
Is the interest you pay on a personal loan tax-deductible?
For most people, interest on personal loans is generally not tax-deductible. Why? Because the IRS doesn’t view personal loans as a necessity the way they do with home loans or student loans.
If you use a personal loan for education expenses, it might qualify for an interest deduction, but the rules are strict. Make sure you talk to an expert to see if you meet the criteria.
Some financially savvy folks invest their personal loan in something that will generate taxable income, like dividend-paying stocks. In those cases, interest may be deductible. Again, this is a complicated move that should only be done under professional advice.
Using Personal Loans For Business
Let’s say you’re a budding entrepreneur, or maybe you already have a small business. At some point, you might think about using a personal loan to cover some business expenses.
Before you make the decision to do this, you should understand how this changes the interest deduction situation.
Here’s the good news: If you use a personal loan solely for business expenses, the interest you pay on that loan might actually be deductible. That’s different from personal loans used for personal reasons, where the interest is generally not deductible.
If you decide to go this route, make sure to keep detailed records. We’re talking about invoices, receipts, and even a detailed log of how the loan funds were used. Why? Because if the IRS ever comes knocking, you’ll want to show that the loan was genuinely for business purposes.
While using a personal loan for business can offer tax benefits, it’s a tricky area. Always consult an advisor or certified public accountant (CPA) to fully understand the implications and make sure you’re following all the rules.
Tax Tips and Tricks for Personal Loans
First things first, documentation is key. Whether your loan is for personal use or a business expense, keep all related paperwork. You might need it for your return, especially if part of your loan is forgiven.
Consult an Advisor or CPA
If your loan has any chance of turning into taxable income — say, due to a loan forgiveness scenario — it’s a good idea to consult an advisor or a CPA. They can help you navigate the complicated tax effects and potentially save you from a surprise bill.
Watch the Use of the Loan
The purpose of your loan can sometimes dictate its tax implications. If you’re using it for business expenses, consult a tax advisor to know exactly what you can and cannot do.
Know the Forms
If you do receive a Form 1099-C due to loan cancellation, make sure you understand how to report it on your tax return. Failure to do so could result in penalties.
If you suspect that you might not be able to repay your loan and are considering negotiating for a lower payback amount, be aware that any forgiven amount will likely be taxable. Budget for this potential extra cost.