United States Taxes
Most of the basic rules governing how loans are handled for tax purposes in the United States are codified by both Congress (the Internal Revenue Code) and the Treasury Department (Treasury Regulations — another set of rules that interpret the Internal Revenue Code). Yet such rules are universally accepted.
1. A loan is not gross income to the borrower. Since the borrower has the obligation to repay the loan, the borrower has no accession to wealth.
2. The lender may not deduct (from own gross income) the amount of the loan. The rationale here is that one asset (the cash) has been converted into a different asset (a promise of repayment). Deductions are not typically available when an outlay serves to create a new or different asset.
3. The amount paid to satisfy the loan obligation is not deductible (from own gross income) by the borrower.
4. Repayment of the loan is not gross income to the lender. In effect, the promise of repayment is converted back to cash, with no accession to wealth by the lender.
5. Interest paid to the lender is included in the lender’s gross income. Interest paid represents compensation for the use of the lender’s money or property and thus represents profit or an accession to wealth to the lender. Interest income can be attributed to lenders even if the lender doesn’t charge a minimum amount of interest.
6. Interest paid to the lender may be deductible by the borrower. In general, interest paid in connection with the borrower’s business activity is deductible, while interest paid on personal loans are not deductible. The major exception here is interest paid on a home mortgage.
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