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‘Fiscal cliff’ bill addresses some key housing issues

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When the monthlong congressional game of chicken known as the "fiscal cliff" ended late last night in the House of Representatives, housing and real estate emerged as winners on most key issues. The Senate bill that finally passed the House by a 259-167 vote extended a number of federal tax code provisions that are important to homebuyers, sellers, builders and real estate professionals. The bill also made permanent the Bush-era reduced tax brackets for all but the highest income earners in the country, along with a permanent "patch" to the increasingly troublesome alternative minimum tax (AMT) that threatened millions of middle-income homeowners with higher taxes. Here's a quick overview of what the legislation means for housing: Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief extended through 2013 For huge numbers of financially distressed owners of homes with underwater mortgages, this was the biggest issue in the entire fiscal cliff debate. The mortgage debt relief provisions...