Bankruptcy. I’ve bet you’ve heard that taxes can't be discharged in bankruptcy, haven't you?
In fact, you could leave this podcast or you could leave this video that you're watching online right now, and you could Google taxes dischargeable bankruptcy. You’ll probably find some sites from bankruptcy lawyers who are just wrong. They're misguided. They're either ignorant or they're lazy. And they’ll tell you that taxes can never be dischargeable in bankruptcy.
Good news for you! Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, the reason that bankruptcy lawyers I think are confused is because the statute is kind of confusing. There are actually two to three double negatives in each one of these sentences. I’m not going to read the statute to you verbatim because frankly, it is confusing. Let me tell you what the three basic rules for the dischargeability of taxes in bankruptcy.
1. The returns have to have been due at least three years, including extensions.
2. The returns, if filed late, have to have been filed for at least two years.
3. The taxes have to have been assessed for at least 240 days.
That’s it for a chapter 7 bankruptcy; those are the three dischargeability rules. There are two other a little bit more minor rules.
The fourth one is there can’t have been any fraud involved and there can't have been any willful evasion or avoidance of paying the tax. We don’t really know what that means yet. We don’t know how aggressive the IRS is going to get, but we just wanted to point that out. There is actually five rules; three of which are very important.
There have been a lot of rules lately that have changed since October of 2005 which govern whether or not you're going to be eligible for a chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is a liquidation bankruptcy, but it’s really the best deal for a debtor.
In a chapter 7, if you qualify, basically your debts are wiped out in most states and you're left with no debts, but you get to keep most of your assets. In Florida, where I’m sitting right now, our bankruptcy laws are really nice. You get to keep your homestead in an unlimited amount in most cases.
Lots of exceptions, lots of details, lots of rules. But I just wanted to point out that taxes can be dischargeable in bankruptcy in many cases, and you should talk to qualified bankruptcy counsel who actually has time to sit down and talk with you when you're talking about discharging taxes and bankruptcy.
If you never get to meet your bankruptcy lawyer, and they have a paralegal fill out all the paperwork, and they say “hmmm, we’ll see. Maybe your taxes are dischargeable in bankruptcy.” Run!! Run very far away.
If you need a detailed analysis to whether or not your tax situation would be covered or governed by a bankruptcy and whether that would be a great option for you, give us a call at 888-getmish (888-438-6474), and I can go ahead and do a detailed bankruptcy analysis just for you.
I’m not a bankruptcy lawyer, but I understand this part of the law very well, and I can work with your bankruptcy lawyer to get the best result for you if you think you're going to have bankruptcy and you have tax debt anyway.