Can I Write Off A Personal Bad Debt?

Personal bad debts which have become uncollectible are generally deducted as a short term capital loss (on Schedule D) in the year it becomes uncollectible.

Be aware that you may need to be able to prove that a legitimate DEBT was incurred to begin with. If the loan was made to a boyfriend/girlfriend, spouse, other relative or friend, the assumption will usually be that this was a gift which you really did not expect to receive back. This can only be disproved by clear evidence, such as a promissory note stating a definite repayment period.

You will also need to be able to establish what occurred to make the debt uncollectible. For example, if the debtor had your debt discharged under bankruptcy, or if the debtor skipped town and you cannot contact them, or if default occurred and collection costs would exceed what you are likely to recover. Generally, you will need to be able to prove that any *reasonable* collection efforts were made. You cannot simply "choose" to forgive the debt and write it off.

See the Schedule D instructions for the format of the statement to be attached if you are deducting a personal bad debt.

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