Bankruptcy & Tax Debt: What You Need To Know

Tax debt can be a significant burden on individuals and families. It may cause many to consider filing for bankruptcy.

When facing overwhelming tax obligations, understanding how personal bankruptcy is impacted by tax debt becomes crucial for those seeking a fresh start. In this blog, we will discuss the dynamics of tax debt within the realm of personal bankruptcy.

Understanding Tax Debt

Tax debt arises from various sources, including income taxes, payroll taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes. Failure to pay these taxes on time can lead to accumulating debt, accompanied by interest, penalties, and potential legal actions by tax authorities.

Local bankruptcy attorney.

Consequences of Tax Debt

The consequences of tax debt can be severe, ranging from financial penalties to legal ramifications such as liens and levies on property and assets. Moreover, tax debt can adversely impact credit scores, hindering individuals’ ability to access loans or credit in the future. The IRS does outsource outstanding tax debt to third party collection agencies.

Personal Bankruptcy & Tax Debt

Personal bankruptcy offers individuals a legal framework to address overwhelming debts and obtain a fresh financial start. However, the ability to discharge tax debt in personal bankruptcy is subject to certain conditions and limitations.

Types of Personal Bankruptcy

Two primary forms of personal bankruptcy, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, are available to individuals seeking relief from debt:

  1. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Often referred to as liquidation bankruptcy, Chapter 7 involves the sale of non-exempt assets to repay creditors, after which qualifying debts, including some tax debts, may be discharged.
  2. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Under Chapter 13, individuals create a repayment plan to gradually pay off debts over three to five years. Tax debts can be included in this plan, allowing for structured repayment.

What Tax Debts Are Dischargeable In Bankruptcy?

Not all tax debts are dischargeable in personal bankruptcy. The dischargeability of tax debt depends on several factors, including the type of tax owed and compliance with specific rules:

Income Tax Debt: Generally, income tax debts can be discharged in bankruptcy if certain criteria are met:

  • The tax return for the debt was due at least three years before filing for bankruptcy.
  • The tax return was filed at least two years before filing for bankruptcy.
  • The tax assessment is at least 240 days old.

Non-Dischargeable Tax Debt: Certain tax debts, such as those related to fraud or willful evasion, are not eligible for discharge in bankruptcy. Trust fund taxes, including payroll taxes withheld from employees, also fall into this category.

How to Deal With Tax Debt In Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Navigating personal bankruptcy concerning tax debt requires careful planning and adherence to legal requirements:

Consultation with a Bankruptcy Attorney

Seeking guidance from a qualified bankruptcy attorney is essential for evaluating the best course of action, understanding eligibility criteria, and navigating the bankruptcy process.

Pre-Bankruptcy Planning

Adequate planning before filing for bankruptcy can help maximize the benefits and address any outstanding tax compliance issues. When planning to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, this will involve taking some required credit counseling classes.

Filing for Bankruptcy

Initiating the bankruptcy process involves filing the necessary paperwork with the bankruptcy court, which triggers an automatic stay on collection actions by creditors, including tax authorities.

Tax Debt Discharge Determination

The bankruptcy court will assess the dischargeability of tax debts based on applicable laws and individual circumstances. As we discussed above, be sure you haven’t lied to the IRS or Michigan State Treasury on your tax returns.

Post-Bankruptcy Compliance

After bankruptcy, maintaining compliance with tax laws is crucial to avoid accruing new tax debts. This entails timely filing of tax returns and adherence to payment obligations.

Tax debt can exert a significant financial strain on individuals, but personal bankruptcy offers a potential path to relief. By understanding the intricacies of tax debt within the framework of personal bankruptcy, individuals can make informed decisions to regain control of their financial well-being.

Consulting with a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney is key to navigating the complexities of the process and achieving a favorable resolution to tax debt challenges. While personal bankruptcy provides a fresh start, it requires careful consideration and planning to ensure a successful financial recovery.

Struggling with tax debt? Contact The Mitten Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss your options.