Types of loans

Secured

A secured loan is a loan in which the borrower pledges some asset (e.g. a car or property) as collateral for the loan.

A mortgage loan is a very common type of debt instrument, used by many individuals to purchase housing. In this arrangement, the money is used to purchase the property. The financial institution, however, is given security — a lien on the title to the house — until the mortgage is paid off in full. If the borrower defaults on the loan, the bank would have the legal right to repossess the house and sell it, to recover sums owing to it.

In some instances, a loan taken out to purchase a new or used car may be secured by the car, in much the same way as a mortgage is secured by housing. The duration of the loan period is considerably shorter — often corresponding to the useful life of the car. There are two types of auto loans, direct and indirect. A direct auto loan is where a bank gives the loan directly to a consumer. An indirect auto loan is where a car dealership acts as an intermediary between the bank or financial institution and the consumer.

A type of loan especially used in limited partnership agreements is the recourse note.

A stock hedge loan is a special type of securities lending whereby the stock of a borrower is hedged by the lender against loss, using options or other hedging strategies to reduce lender risk.[citation needed]

A pre-settlement loan is a non-recourse debt, this is when a monetary loan is given based on the merit and awardable amount in a lawsuit case. Only certain types of lawsuit cases are eligible for a pre-settlement loan.[citation needed] This is considered a secured non-recourse debt due to the fact if the case reaches a verdict in favor of the defendant the loan is forgiven.

Unsecured

Unsecured loans are monetary loans that are not secured against the borrower's assets. These may be available from financial institutions under many different guises or marketing packages:

  • credit card debt
  • personal loans
  • bank overdrafts
  • credit facilities or lines of credit
  • corporate bonds

The interest rates applicable to these different forms may vary depending on the lender and the borrower. These may or may not be regulated by law. In the United Kingdom, when applied to individuals, these may come under the Consumer Credit Act 1974.


Abuses in lending

Predatory lending is one form of abuse in the granting of loans. It usually involves granting a loan in order to put the borrower in a position that one can gain advantage over him or her. Where the moneylender is not authorised, it could be considered a loan shark.

Usury is a different form of abuse, where the lender charges excessive interest. In different time periods and cultures the acceptable interest rate has varied, from no interest at all to unlimited interest rates. Credit card companies in some countries have been accused by consumer organisations of lending at usurious interest rates and making money out of frivolous "extra charges". [1]

Abuses can also take place in the form of the customer abusing the lender by not repaying the loan or with an intent to defraud the lender.

United States taxes

Most of the basic rules governing how loans are handled for tax purposes in the United States are uncodified by both Congress (the Internal Revenue Code) and the Treasury Department (Treasury Regulations — another set of rules that interpret the Internal Revenue Code).[2] Yet such rules are universally accepted.[3]

1. A loan is not gross income to the borrower.[4] Since the borrower has the obligation to repay the loan, the borrower has no accession to wealth.[5]

2. The lender may not deduct the amount of the loan.[6] The rationale here is that one asset (the cash) has been converted into a different asset (a promise of repayment).[7] Deductions are not typically available when an outlay serves to create a new or different asset.[8]

3. The amount paid to satisfy the loan obligation is not deductible by the borrower.[9]

4. Repayment of the loan is not gross income to the lender.[10] In effect, the promise of repayment is converted back to cash, with no accession to wealth by the lender.[11]

5. Interest paid to the lender is included in the lender’s gross income.[12] Interest paid represents compensation for the use of the lender’s money or property and thus represents profit or an accession to wealth to the lender.[13] Interest income can be attributed to lenders even if the lender doesn’t charge a minimum amount of interest.[14]

6. Interest paid to the lender may be deductible by the borrower.[15] In general, interest paid in connection with the borrower’s business activity is deductible, while interest paid on personal loans are not deductible.[16] The major exception here is interest paid on a home mortgage.[17]

Income from discharge of indebtedness

Although a loan does not start out as income to the borrower, it becomes income to the borrower if the borrower is discharged of indebtedness. [18] Thus, if a debt is discharged, then the borrower essentially has received income equal to the amount of the indebtedness. The Internal Revenue Code lists “Income from Discharge of Indebtedness” in Section 62(a)(12) as a source of gross income.

Example: X owes Y $50,000. If Y discharges the indebtedness, then X no longer owes Y $50,000. For purposes of calculating income, this should be treated the same way as if Y gave X $50,000.

For a more detailed description of the “discharge of indebtedness”, look at Section 108 (Cancellation of Debt (COD) Income) of the Internal Revenue Code.[19]


  1. ^ Credit card holders pay Rs 6,000 cr 'extra' May 03, 2007
  2. ^ Samuel A. Donaldson, Federal Income Taxation of Individuals: Cases, Problems and Materials, 2nd Ed. 111 (2007).
  3. ^ Id.
  4. ^ Id.
  5. ^ Id. See Commissioner v. Glenshaw Glass Co., 348 U.S. 426 (1955)(giving the three-prong standard for what is "income" for tax purposes: (1) accession to wealth, (2) clearly realized, (3) over which the taxpayer has complete dominion).
  6. ^ Donaldson, at 111.
  7. ^ Id.
  8. ^ Id.
  9. ^ Id.
  10. ^ Id.
  11. ^ Id.
  12. ^ Id.; 26 U.S.C. 61(a)(4)(2007).
  13. ^ Id.
  14. ^ Id. at 112.
  15. ^ Id.
  16. ^ Id.
  17. ^ Id.
  18. ^ Id.; 26 U.S.C. 61(a)(12)(2007).
  19. ^ Id.; 26 U.S.C. 108(2007).

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