Bankruptcy and Taxes

If you are considering filing bankruptcy, you may be interested in determining how income taxes are addressed in a bankruptcy filing. In order to determine how bankruptcy affects taxes, you must know the original due date the taxes came due. From there, you will need to know when you filed the tax return related to that tax debt. With an understanding of these two factors, you can determine the treatment of the debt in a Chapter 7 filing and a Chapter 13 filing.

The Taxes Must Be Three Years Old

Your tax obligation comes due on the date the taxes are due. For example, the taxes due for calendar year 2016 did not come due until April 15th, 2017. That tax debt turns three years old on April 15th, 2020. If you file your bankruptcy prior to April 15th, 2020, the debt will still have priority status. This means in a Chapter 7 the tax debt will survive the bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13, the debt will be paid  in full through your 60 month Chapter 13 plan.

If you file your bankruptcy after April 15th, 2020, the debt loses its status and is lumped in with other general unsecured debts in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 filing. In a Chapter 7, this means the debt is discharged in full. In a Chapter 13, a percentage of the debt will be paid just like the remainder of unsecured creditors receive a percentage of their debt through the Chapter 13 plan. Many Chapter 13 plans are set to pay 5 or 10 percent to unsecured creditors, or even less. This can be a tremendous advantage for individuals with heavy tax burdens who are considering bankruptcy. (If you want to read more about Chapter 13 payments, we wrote about them HERE).

Your Tax Return Must Be Filed

If your tax debt is more than three years old, there is a chance it qualifies to be treated as unsecured debt, as discussed above. However, there are a few additional requirements. One of those is that the tax returns related to that tax debt must have been filed at least two years prior to the bankruptcy filing. If you failed to file your own return and the taxing authority filed a “forced return” on your behalf, unfortunately even if that forced filing is more than two years old, it will not qualify for this requirement.

The 240 Day Rule

One last requirement is that the taxing authority must have assessed the tax debt at least 240 years prior to the filing. For example, consider a scenario where you file taxes April 15th of 2017 and owe $5,000.00. That tax debt turns three years old April 15th of 2020. However, if the IRS audits you for 2017 and assesses an additional $10,000 of debt for the 2017 tax year, you will need to wait at least 240 days from the date of the assessment of new taxes in order to have that debt discharged in bankruptcy.

Confused? Don’t Be!

We are here to help. We assess tax debt on a regular basis in our office and you will have confidence about the treatment of your tax debt prior to your bankruptcy filing. If you would like to schedule a consultation you can call us at 704.749.7747 or click HERE to request one. All consultations are free, and you deserve to understand your options regarding bankruptcy and taxes. When it comes to choosing a law firm, we know you have options. We hope you choose Layton Law.