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Tax.appeal.168, Tax Accountant
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I am trying to figure out how to write off some bad debt.

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I am trying to figure out how to write off some bad debt. I have sued this particular guy and I see no reason I will lose. However, I am still quite certain I will never see a penny of this money. Can I write this off now? Or do I lose some sort of ability to recover this debt if I do so? Thanks in advance!
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Q: Can I write this off now?

A: In the eyes of the IRS, there are two types of bad debt, business bad debt, and non business bad debt. Per the current IRS rules, you can write off a bad debt when it becomes worthless. SEE BELOW:

The following are examples of business bad debts (if previously included in income):

  • Loans to clients and suppliers
  • Credit sales to customers, or
  • Business loan guarantees

A business deducts its bad debts from gross income when figuring its taxable income. Business bad debts may be deducted in part or in full. You can claim a business bad debt using either the specific charge-off method or the nonaccrual-experience method.

All other bad debts are nonbusiness. Nonbusiness bad debts must be totally worthless to be deductible. You cannot deduct a partially worthless nonbusiness bad debt.


A debt becomes worthless when the surrounding facts and circumstances indicate there is no reasonable expectation of payment. To show that a debt is worthless, you must establish that you have taken reasonable steps to collect the debt. It is not necessary to go to court if you can show that a judgment from the court would be uncollectible. You may take the deduction only in the year the debt becomes worthless.

You do not have to wait until a debt is due to determine whether it is worthless.


A nonbusiness bad debt is reported as a short-term capital loss on Form 8949 (PDF), Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets, Part 1, line 1. Enter the name of the debtor and “bad debt statement attached” in column (a). Enter your basis in the bad debt in column (f) and enter zero in column (e). Use a separate line for each bad debt. It is subject to the capital loss limitations. A nonbusiness bad debt deduction requires a separate detailed statement attached to your return.




Note that if you write off a bad debt, legally, you cannot try to collect on that debt in the future.




Please let me know if I can be of further assistance to you regardng this matter.


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