When you acquire credit card debt, you basically received your credit card bill at the end of the month and did not pay it in full. This is seen as purchases on credit, and is creditor's debt from a lender. Most of the time you would be required to pay the debt with added interest, or fees. Prolonged refusal to pay would result in the lender filing a judgement against you, which would allow lenders to garnish your tax refund, and/or go after your disposable income. This would result in you not reporting this as income. In the instance in which the debt has been "written off", or in other words is seen as a 1099-C "Cancelation of Debt", then the debt you acquired is forgiven by the lender. This means you do not owe any debt attached to your name by the lender, so the credit card debt is gone. In this case, you would have to list this cancelation of debt as income, which is considered taxable by the IRS.