The Treasury Department refuse[d] to stop forcing permanently disabled people to pay taxes on student loans that have been canceled, leaving a vulnerable population susceptible to thousands of dollars in charges, according to Senate staffers.
Anyone with a severe disability is eligible to have the government discharge their federal student loans. The process is widely considered difficult to navigate, so the Obama administration allows people to use their Social Security designation to apply, yet few take advantage. As a result, the Education Department began identifying borrowers too disabled to repay their federal loans and guiding them through debt cancellation. The trouble is, every dollar forgiven by the government is considered taxable income.
Congressional lawmakers have urged Treasury to use its administrative authority to fix the problem, but the department is not taking action.
At a meeting Wednesday, Treasury officials informed Senate staffers that it will not issue guidance addressing the tax penalty for disabled borrowers, according to people in attendance who were not authorized to speak publicly. They said Treasury officials conceded that roughly two thirds of affected borrowers are insolvent, a designation that would allow Treasury to waive any taxes connected to discharged loans. Claiming insolvency, however, involves complex paperwork. ...