Temporary new cancellation of debt income deferral provisions help companies renegotiate debt more easily

In response to the difficult economic circumstances confronting the United States, the Congress recently passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Act contains two tax provisions that are of particular interest to certain taxpayers that plan to repurchase or renegotiate their outstanding debt in 2009 or 2010: one of these temporarily provides certain taxpayers with an election to defer the recognition of cancellation of indebtedness income that they would otherwise be required to realize as a consequence of certain debt repurchase or renegotiation transactions, while the other temporarily suspends the applicable high-yield discount obligation rules with regard to certain debt exchanges. This article describes these two provisions, explains their significance and addresses some open issues that may be clarified by the US Treasury Department regarding the application of the provisions.