When you borrow money it's not a taxable event because it's assumed you will pay the money back. However, if you don't pay the money back, it then becomes taxable. For example, if you run up a $15,000 credit card debt, pay back only $5000 and get the lender to write off the $10,000 balance, the $10,000 is considered income because you were able to use the credit card to buy things just as if you had $10,000 in the bank and wrote checks for those things.
Lenders must report the amount of debt they write off to the IRS. They send you a Form 1099C telling you what they have reported and that amount must be shown on your tax return. If you had debts forgiven in 2013 those forms arrived in January 2014.
Be sure the 1099C is correct. Some 1099C's are issued in error, some are issued for the wrong amount and some are duplicative.
Debt forgiveness isn't always a taxable event. Certain types of mortgage debt forgiveness is excluded as income and other types of forgiveness can be excluded if you have filed bankruptcy or are insolvent.
An experienced tax professional can help you properly report income from debt forgiveness. Please contact Turner's Tax Service for assistance.