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.
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.