``Along with the federal budget, billions in tax increases, draconian spending cuts and efforts to avoid the "fiscal cliff" looming Dec. 31, the lame-duck session is expected to answer what's estimated to be a multibillion-dollar question for housing: Will Congress renew the mortgage debt forgiveness tax provisions for owners whose mortgage lenders agree to write off portions of their debt, either as part of loan modifications, foreclosures, short sales or deeds-in-lieu of foreclosure? Without an extension, borrowers who receive reductions in principal next year would be hit with federal income taxes at their regular marginal rates on the amounts forgiven. ''

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