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15 Seconds of Positive News About Student Loans and Congress

By on February 15, 2018

In a rare moment of bipartisanship at the end of 2017, a bill was introduced and signed into law that finally deals with the issue of tax liability for forgiven student federal and private student loan debt from the death of the student or disability.

Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced the legislation with Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Angus King (I-ME). It was titled The Stop Taxing Death and Disability Act.

While the federal government forgives certain federal student loans in the case of the death or disability of the borrower, the IRS treats this canceled debt as income, which can result in tens of thousands of dollars in immediate tax liability. The Stop Taxing Death and Disability Act eliminated this unfair tax, which simply replaces one financial burden with another and serves no public policy purpose.

The Stop Taxing Death and Disability Act:

Exempts from income tax federal and private student loans that are discharged due to the death of a child or total and permanent disability. Congress already exempts certain discharged federal student loans from income taxes.

Allows a parent whose child develops a total and permanent disability to qualify for student loan discharge. The bill resolves an inconsistency in statute by authorizing the Department of Education to discharge federal loans owed by a parent of a child who becomes totally and permanently disabled. Currently parents are allowed to discharge federal student loans if they develop a total and permanent disability, or if their child dies, but not if their child develops a total and permanent disability. The bill also exempts this new type of discharge from income tax.

While Congress still has not tackled the bigger issue of forgiven student loan debt from income-driven repayment plans at least they’ve death and disability to a short list of tax-free forgiveness situations: Public Service Loan Forgiveness and tax-exempt forgiveness of student loans due to the closure of a borrower’s school.

About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.


  1. Bob

    February 15, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    My friend Pam may be one of the 1st persons to benefit from this legislation! She was awarded a TPD January 19th, 2018. She is in the window of opportunity to also NOT have to pat income tax on her $26,000.00 discharged student loans! I wrote about her miracles on my blog: Check it out and my other articles about student loan discharges!

    • Steve Rhode

      February 15, 2018 at 3:57 pm

      The law says “shall apply to discharges of indebtedness after December 31, 2016” so she should ask her tax advisor about this if she gets a 1099-C.

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