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I did not work in 2017, and do not have any W2 forms for 2017. I am single, and I have been living on family support, I am currently trying to get disability.

I received a 1099-C form in 2017 from a credit card debt I could not pay on. Do I need to file 2017 income tax, if so how do I do it without any W2's, or any other type of income forms?

  • W2 is only needed if you report wages, which you won't. Various 1099-series forms sometimes apply to various other types of income, but what you are actually required to report (and possibly pax tax on) can often be different from what a 1099 says. – dave_thompson_085 Mar 21 '18 at 23:07
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There's not enough information to answer your first question, "Do I need to file a 2017 income tax return?" Fortunately, the IRS provides a tool you can use that will fully answer the question. The amount of debt forgiven reported on 1099-C is included in Gross Income for the year.

If you do have to file a return, the IRS says "you must report any taxable amount of a canceled debt as ordinary income from the cancellation of debt on Form 1040.pdf, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, or Form 1040NR.pdf, U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return, as "other income" on line 21 if the debt is a nonbusiness debt, or an applicable schedule if the debt is a business debt."

As dave_thompson_085 notes below in the comments, not all cancelled debt is taxable. IRS Publication 4681 explains under what circumstances cancelled debt is not income. It sounds like Insolvency, on page 5, may be of particular interest to you.

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Consult a tax expert on the details of how to file, but you should not owe anything if you had no other income for that year. Essentially your debts exceed your income/assets for that year - there is a word for it, but I just can't think of it.

  • Cancellation of debt income (other than home mortgage, which had special rules, changed effective 2018 by TCJA) is untaxed if (or to the extent) you were insolvent or bankrupt at the time (not necessarily the rest of the year). – dave_thompson_085 Mar 21 '18 at 23:11
  • "insolvent" - that's the word I was searching for. OP would definitely qualify as insolvent with no other income for the year. – Norm Mar 22 '18 at 12:44
  • It is possible to have assets, even liquid assets, without income, but OP said 'could not pay' which implies lack of both (at least to me). – dave_thompson_085 Mar 23 '18 at 0:14
  • Yes, that was my thinking as well. – Norm Mar 23 '18 at 15:01

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