Filing for Bankruptcy? Here’s What to Know About Your Tax Debt

Filing for bankruptcy won’t magically solve all of your money problems. What it can do, however, is reduce some of your hardships. When it comes to your overdue tax burdens, you may get some relief. Does bankruptcy clear tax debt? Here’s what to know about the complex rules and why you might need legal help.

Understanding Bankruptcy

Being bankrupt doesn’t just mean that you can’t pay your debts. It’s a specific type of legal status with roots in constitutional law, and you have to petition a court to leverage the benefits. As you might expect, this process includes a variety of rules.

A Good Example: Chapter 7

Imagine that you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Wisconsin. This widely used form of protection lets you transfer your assets, or properties, over to a third party. The third party, or trustee, then sells them and uses the money to pay your creditors.

Chapter 7 and Taxes

Does bankruptcy clear tax debt? It all depends on your situation and ability to build a strong, evidence-backed case.

Chapter 7 only lets you eliminate tax debt under specific circumstances. For instance, you’ll still need to file your taxes during your bankruptcy case, and you need to have filed a previous return at least two years before seeking protection. You also can’t have previously taken unlawful actions, such as lying on a return or trying to hide non-exempt assets, to evade taxes or mislead the court.

The specifics of the tax debts that you want to discharge also matter. Chapter 7 only excuses income tax debt that’s at least three years old at the time of your filing. In addition, the IRS needs to have assessed the liability at least 240 days before your bankruptcy petition becomes formal.

If you owe money in penalties from missing a payment or took on more tax debt recently, then these liabilities won’t be excused. It’s also important to understand the case-by-case limitations of the rules: As various cases in the Eastern District of Wisconsin Bankruptcy Court have shown, things like tax refunds may not be protected from claims.

The Value of Filing for Bankruptcy

Why file for protection if you have to jump through so many hoops? When you work with a reputable attorney like Burr Law Office, there are many potential advantages.

Chapter 7 has the benefit of immediately stopping your collectors from pursuing repayment. This temporary relief, also known as an automatic stay, only lasts while your case is going through court, but it can be a huge perk if you’re struggling financially. What’s more, the stay goes into effect the instant you file even if you don’t eventually receive approval.

Chapter 7 filings can also be quick compared to alternatives, such as Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Although these options have their benefits, they require you to come up with a repayment plan, which can take time.

Filing for bankruptcy has the potential to relieve you from overbearing debt. Even if it doesn’t clear all of your tax debt, the mere act of giving you breathing room may make it easier to adapt and pay what you owe.

Want to learn more about the ins and outs of seeking bankruptcy protection in Milwaukee or Waukesha? Talk to a legal tax debt adviser at the Burr Law Office. Call (262) 827-0375 today.

Is Your Tax Return Taken in Bankruptcy?

As we make our way into February, it’s time to start getting our finances in order to prepare for taxes. For those looking to file for bankruptcy in the Milwaukee and Waukesha area, the topic of tax returns often comes up. At Burr Law Office, we want to make sure you fully understand the process and feel confident in your case.

When looking to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your tax return is an important consideration. People who will receive a return right before filing often wonder – will I be able to keep my return or will it be taken as part of the bankruptcy? The answer is dependent upon a number of factors (including the size of the return), but generally the person filing for bankruptcy will be able to keep the return. Under federal bankruptcy exemptions, you’re generally good to go – the exemptions are normally large enough to protect most tax refunds.

While being able to keep your return is great news, you should take precautions as to how you plan to use the money. It’s often recommended that people use their tax return money to pay for the costs and fees associated with bankruptcy. In essence, it’s best to use the money towards making the bankruptcy process easier as opposed to purchasing other things. One thing to note – you should consult your bankruptcy attorney if you plan to use the money to pay off debt you owe to a creditor or family member. Often the trustee has the ability to take the money back from whomever you paid.

If you’re unsure of your situation, the best idea is to call our bankruptcy attorney team at Burr Law Office. We’ll help make the bankruptcy process as smooth as possible for you.

Tax Returns and Bankruptcy

Milwaukee bankruptcy tax refundWith tax season among us, the question of bankruptcy before or after taxes comes up quite often. Many people wonder whether or not their tax refund will affect their filing and, mostly, whether or not they will get to keep their refund.

There are a few factors that influence whether or not you will be able to keep your refund in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing – your exemptions, the time you file, and the amount of your refund.

As soon as you file for Chapter 7, essentially all of your assets become property of the bankruptcy – including any tax refunds as of your filing date. In other words, unless your Chapter 7 specifically exempts tax refunds, a trustee can take it and distribute it to creditors.

In order to protect your refund, you’ll have to be able to exempt it. The best way to find out if this is possible is by speaking with a Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyer like Michael Burr of Burr Law Offices prior to filing. By working with Attorney Burr, you will likely be able to be better protected in your case.

If you aren’t able to exempt your refund, the next step would be to look at the timing of your filing. This option will only be viable for those that aren’t rushed and have more flexibility for filing. You simply can wait until after you receive your refund and spend it. Do remember, however, purchasing an asset will still put you at risk for surrendering said purchase after filing. The best way to spend your refund is on living expenses – food, gas, rent, etc.

If you’re considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or are having problems paying taxes, contact Milwaukee bankruptcy lawyer Michael Burr. With over 20 years of bankruptcy experience, Attorney Burr will help you have the most successful bankruptcy possible.

Bankruptcy Legal Aid: Discharging Tax Debt with Chapter 7

In bankruptcy law, Chapter 7 is often referred to as a “liquidation bankruptcy” because it allows consumers to liquidate, or eliminate, almost all outstanding debts. Many people falsely believe that tax debt cannot be discharged when you file, but experienced Milwaukee bankruptcy legal aid from Attorney Burr can actually help most consumers eliminate tax debt by filing for Chapter 7 if they meet these three basic provisions.

The income tax return was due over three years ago

If you owe back taxes to the IRS, you are not alone—thousands of Americans either intentionally or inadvertently short the IRS a total of $290 billion each year. As the IRS becomes increasingly aggressive about pursuing people who owe back taxes, many consumers find themselves overwhelmed by bills. If you are considering filing for Chapter 7, you may be able to eliminate your tax debt as long as the tax return was due more than three years ago.

The income tax return was filed more than two years ago

Was your tax return filed more than two years ago today? If so, you already satisfy this requirement, but some taxpayers never file returns for certain years. In that case, the IRS will file one for you. Unfortunately, a government-filed tax return does not meet this test; each consumer must file his own return at least two years before filing for Chapter 7.

The tax was assessed more than 240 days ago

This rule means that the tax agency must have determined that you owe back taxes more than 240 days ago. If you filed your return and acknowledged that you owed a balance; according to bankruptcy law, your tax debt has been assessed. This rule can be confusing, so be sure to consult an experienced attorney to determine your precise assessment date.

Contact attorney Michael Burr at Burr Law Office today at (877) 891-1638 to get the Milwaukee bankruptcy legal aid you need.  You can also visit our website for more information about our legal services.