The construction industry may be in growth mode now, but many contractors lost substantial business and took on heavy debt during the recent recession. If you’re looking for debt relief and thinking about debt restructuring, construction CPA Doeren Mayhew offers information to consider.

Learn the Rules of Debt Restructuring

No one wants to think too much about debt, but it’s important to learn the rules. For example, if a creditor loses hope of collecting an outstanding debt, it may cancel your debt and report the amount to the IRS using Form 1099-C. This form helps determine:

  • Whether the debtor is personally liable for the debt
  • Whether the debt was canceled in a bankruptcy proceeding
  • The fair market value of any property that may be foreclosed on because of the debt cancellation

When tax season arrives and you receive your 1099C, you’ll need to report the canceled debt as additional taxable income. Lenders may also issue a 1099A, which is required if a debtor stops paying or abandons its debt. But if the debt is canceled, the lender can include information regarding the abandonment on Form 1099C instead of 1099A. The lender must send a copy of the form to the borrower by Jan. 31 of the year after the debt is canceled.

People often confuse “canceled” debt with “charged off” or “written off” debt. A “charge-off” means the creditor has deleted your account from its active books and has likely sent the account for collection or sold the account to a debt buyer. Keep in mind that a charge-off on your credit report doesn’t mean you don’t have to pay the debt. Unless the debt was canceled with a 1099C or discharged in bankruptcy, you still owe the money.

Swap Debt for Equity

Another debt restructuring strategy is a debt-for-equity exchange, which is when a company replaces its debt with a percentage of ownership in the business. This solution often occurs when a company is unable to repay its creditors without going bankrupt.

Bear in mind, such a swap will likely mean a drastic restructuring of your construction business and may even result in a surrender of business leadership as creditors gain more control over operations. The advantage, however, is the prospect of future growth: Debt-for-equity frees up money that you would have previously spent on debt repayment.

Work With Creditors

Coming to a debt agreement with creditors isn’t always a possibility. But, if you have strong working relationships with one or more of these parties, it’s at least worth a try. An informal debt agreement may enable you to freeze accrued interest on your debt and give you some welcome relief from the onslaught of letters, emails and calls from the creditor in question.

This option is also preferable because it does less damage to your construction company’s credit rating than bankruptcy would. In addition, payments are often simpler, because, depending on the nature of the agreement, you may be able to pay a one-time sum to the creditor rather than keep up with multiple repayments.

If you plan to take this route, it’s generally best to engage an experienced debt agreement administrator to help negotiate and prepare the arrangement.

Get Creative With Debt Relief

When a contractor falls into major debt, filing for bankruptcy may seem like the easiest or only option. Yet there may be a variety of ways to creatively restructure your financial obligations to your advantage. Your construction CPA can help you determine the best mix of debt reductions and payment term extensions for your construction company.

For more information on debt restructuring for your construction business, contact a Doeren Mayhew construction CPA in Michigan, Houston or Ft. Lauderdale.