Bankruptcy Law

Which Type of Bankruptcy Should I File to Keep My Home?

One of the biggest fears people have when filing for bankruptcy is losing their home, car, and other important assets. However, with Florida bankruptcy exemptions and depending on the type of bankruptcy being filed, it is possible for consumers to keep their home and other property. It ultimately depends on the filer’s financial circumstances.  

Protecting Home Equity  

How much equity the filer has in his or her home plays a big part in whether he or she can keep it Equity plays an important part in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. The equity a person has in his or her home is protected through the state’s homestead exemption, and fortunately for Florida filers, the state’s homestead exemption is quite generous.  

Bankruptcy Law

Miami Bankruptcy Attorney Timothy S. Kingcade Obtains Order Allowing Protections for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Client

Bankruptcy Attorney Timothy S. Kingcade of the Miami-based bankruptcy and foreclosure defense law firm of Kingcade Garcia McMaken obtained an Order for his client in a Chapter 13 case (Case No. 20-10135-RAM), limiting the scope of permissible relief in a pending criminal contempt case. The Motion for Contempt seeks relief against Jeffrey Charlow and counsel, for proceeding with a criminal case pending against Kingcade’s client in Broward County, Florida.

The Criminal Contempt Case was initiated by an order entered by Judge Robert W. Lee in a civil case also pending against the client. The court determined continuation of the Criminal Contempt case was not a violation of the automatic stay, but imposed two important limitations protecting our client:  Judge Lee may not sentence our client to jail with an Order that expels the sentence if a fine is paid and payment will necessarily come from the property of the estate.

Debt Relief, student loan debt, Student Loans

FTC Takes Legal Action Against Corrupt Student Loan Debt Relief Companies

The case comes as a warning to student loan borrowers struggling with their debt and company’s looking to profit from it. The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on two student loan debt relief operations and the financing company that assisted them. The complaint is alleging the companies charged illegal upfront fees, led consumers to believe the fees would go towards reducing their loan balances, and falsely promised to permanently lower and even eliminate their balances.

The FTC has also charged the companies with locking its customers into high-interest loans and paying their fees without making required disclosures. This caused their customers to sink further into debt.

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief

What are the Rules for Eliminating Tax Debts in Bankruptcy?

A bankruptcy case can eliminate most debts, and many times, these eliminated liabilities include tax debts. However, not all tax debts can be discharged in a bankruptcy case. Ultimately it depends on the age of the debt, how it was incurred, and the type of bankruptcy being filed.

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcies

In a Chapter 7 case, the bankruptcy trustee takes the assets the filer has that are not protected by Florida bankruptcy exemptions, liquidates them, and uses the proceeds to pay off as much debt as possible. If the person’s assets are not enough to cover all their debts, which often is the case, the remainder of the balances owed are discharged.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy case allows the filer to work with the bankruptcy trustee on a three to five-year long repayment plan to pay off his or her debts. The goal is to pay most in full, but any unpaid balances are discharged at the end. However, which debts get repaid first depends on their priority level.

Tax debts are normally considered “priority” debts in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases, which means they are paid first when assets are liquidated in a Chapter 7 case and are included and paid in full for the most part in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan. Since tax debt is considered priority debt, it is not dischargeable in a Chapter 13 case.

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief

How to Protect Your Home in Bankruptcy

When facing the possibility of filing for bankruptcy, whether it be Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, the thought of losing your home can be frightening. In fact, losing one’s home can be one of the biggest concerns holding someone back from filing for bankruptcy. The lawyers at Kingcade Garcia McMaken work hard to protect people from losing their assets in a bankruptcy case, including the filer’s home.

Automatic Stay

One of the first protections filers receive when proceeding with any type of bankruptcy case is the automatic stay. The automatic stay keeps creditors from continuing any collections actions, and it immediately goes into effect after the bankruptcy petition is filed.

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Understanding the Bankruptcy Process in Florida

Making the decision to file for bankruptcy is never an easy one. The steps taken during a bankruptcy case vary depending on the type of person or entity filing for bankruptcy. Once you decide to file for bankruptcy, it is important that you avoid mistakes that could impact your case or jeopardize your debts from being discharged.

Business filers are limited normally to a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, unless the business is a sole proprietorship. In this situation, the business may be able to proceed with a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If the filer is an individual, depending on qualifications, he or she may be able to do either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

To qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case in Florida, the debtor needs to pass the means test. The means test takes into account your income, expenses and family size to determine whether you have enough disposable income to repay your debts. If the debtor does not pass the means test, the next option is a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which is also known as a repayment or reorganization bankruptcy. In Chapter 13, the debtor works with the bankruptcy trustee on a three-to-five-year-long repayment plan whereby the debtor’s debts are negotiated down and consolidated into one single monthly payment. The debtor will normally get to keep all of his or her assets in this type of bankruptcy.

Many people fear that filing for bankruptcy will result in them losing everything they own. Do not believe this myth.  Many Chapter 7 cases are “no-asset” cases, which means that the debtor gives up no possessions due to the allotted bankruptcy exemptions.  Florida has one of the most generous homestead exemptions in the country. To use Florida’s exemptions, you must have resided in Florida for at least 730 days before filing your bankruptcy petition. To claim the full value of the homestead exemption in Florida, you must have owned the property for at least 1,215 days before the bankruptcy filing.

The state also allows the filer to exempt personal property up to $1,000, education savings and health savings, tax credits and refunds, and up to $1,000 in motor vehicle equity if the filers are married and filing jointly. Additionally, Florida allows for wages of the head of family to be exempt for up to $750 weekly or the greater of 75 percent or 30 times the minimum wage. Florida exemptions also cover different types of pensions and retirement funds, as well as annuities and insurance policies.

If a debtor passes the means test and is able to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, the next question is whether the filer’s debt is dischargeable. For the most part, bankruptcy involves debt that is unsecured and not connected to collateral, such as medical bills or consumer credit card debt. Other debt, such as child support payments, tax debt and spousal support are not dischargeable. If the filer’s debt is mainly unsecured, Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be the better option for him or her to discharge the debt. If the filer’s debt is connected to another asset that the filer wishes to keep, a Chapter 13 filing may be the better option.

It helps to have the assistance of an experienced bankruptcy attorney to guide you through the process. A bankruptcy attorney can review the debtor’s situation, advise him or her on the best route to take with respect to bankruptcy and can ensure that all paperwork is completed correctly to avoid any unnecessary delays.

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If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

 

Bankruptcy Law, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

IRS Tax Lien? Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Can Help

If you are facing an IRS tax lien, you may wonder what your options are to discharge the debt.  For many individuals, the most common method to get rid of a tax debt is through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 bankruptcy offers unique debt solutions not available in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.  Through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, clients are required to restructure their debt and create a repayment plan that is better designed to fit their ability to pay. The money will go towards the debts that matter the most, like your mortgage, car loan, support obligations, taxes, etc.  The remaining debts, such as your credit cards, medical bills and utility bills will only get a fraction of what is owed.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to:

  • keep all property;
  • avoid foreclosure and vehicle repossession;
  • pay the fair market value for a car, and;
  • stop lawsuits, wage garnishments, and bank levies.

Tax debt that is secured by an IRS tax lien, the personal liability on that debt may also be discharged, although the lien will be treated differently. It depends largely on the timing of the bankruptcy case, as well as the classification of the debt when it comes to whether the tax debt can be discharged.

What Is the Status of the Tax Debt?

The first question to ask yourself is what the timing or status of the tax debt is? Your IRS tax account transcripts will be able to provide this information, including the date of the filing of the tax return, the date the tax was assessed and whether any events have occurred that could have stopped time periods for the debt, as well as whether any liens have been recorded against the property the taxpayer owns. If the IRS has secured a lien on the taxpayer’s land, county land records should be able to pull this information up, as well.

IRS Lien as a Secured Debt

If the IRS has properly secured a tax lien on your property, this means the debt is a secured one for purposes of bankruptcy. The taxpayer’s personal tax debt may be able to be discharged, but the lien will remain on the property. What this means is if you are not able to pay off the entire amount owed on the lien, with interest, during the Chapter 13 bankruptcy case or repayment plan, the IRS retains the right to seize the property once bankruptcy is finalized to receive payment on the debt.

Can Tax Debt Be Unsecured?

Tax debt can also be unsecured and discharged, but for this to happen, certain requirements must be met, including:

  • The due date for the most recent tax return must be more than three years before the filing for bankruptcy;
  • The tax return must have been filed at least two years prior to the bankruptcy filing;
  • The tax claim must have been assessed at least 240 days before filing for bankruptcy;
  • The tax return must also be from a non-fraudulent filing; and
  • The taxpayer must not have engaged to willfully evade or defeat the tax debt.

If all these requirements are met and the debt is not otherwise secured by a lien, it will be classified as an unsecured debt. This classification is ideal for debtors who are looking to discharge the debt completely.

During a repayment plan through Chapter 13, these unsecured debts are normally paid at a pro rata distribution, which means they are paid after secured and priority debts are paid first. Anything that is not paid at the end of the repayment period is then discharged.

List All Tax Debts

When filing for bankruptcy, it is important you list all your tax debts, including tax authorities to whom you owe the debt. That authority has 180 days to then file a proof of claim where they indicate what the tax debt is it that you owe. If the taxing authority does not file an official proof of claim, the claim may be discharged without any payment. This situation is rare, but it occasionally does occur.

Incurring Debts Post-Filing

Life does not stop simply because you have filed for bankruptcy. If you do incur additional tax debt after filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, that debt may then be added to your case as a post-petition debt. That debt will then be lumped in and paid back as part of your Chapter 13 repayment plan.

Not all bankruptcies are the same. It is important to understand the difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy when considering your options. It is equally important to have a Miami bankruptcy lawyer on your side that will take the time to help you find the best plan to work for you.

If you are facing an IRS tax lien, we can help. Have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Related Resources:

https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/declaring-bankruptcy

https://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/bankruptcy/tax-debts-chapter-13-bankruptcy.html

https://www.thebankruptcysite.org/resources/bankruptcy/chapter-13/tax-debts-chapter-13-bankruptcy

 

 

 

Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Bankruptcy History Suggests Intent to Hinder and Delay Creditors

The Tenth Circuit Court recently heard the Rupp v. Pearson case where the debtor’s historical use of bankruptcy filings suggested improper purpose to hinder and delay creditors.

Mrs. Pearson had filed nine, mostly unsuccessful, bankruptcies since 1993. In 1997, she filed two unsuccessful chapter 13 cases before filing a chapter 7 petition and receiving a discharge. She later filed two more unsuccessful chapter 13 cases and had one pending chapter 13 case. She then filed another chapter 7 case seeking another discharge of her debts. The second chapter 7 case was filed two weeks after the dismissal of her chapter 13, and immediately upon the passage of the eight-year period.

The bankruptcy court inferred that Ms. Pearson was a “system-gamer.” This means that she routinely filed chapter 13 cases simply to stall collection efforts and with no actual intention of complying with the terms of her own plans. She then filed for chapter 7 relief as soon as the law allowed.

During one of Ms. Pearson’s filings, she agreed to contribute her expected tax return to the extent it exceeded $2,000. However, she kept the entire $4,829 refund and spent it on non-exempt personal items. This resulted in the bankruptcy court dismissing one of her chapter 13 cases. When she filed a chapter 7 case two weeks later, the trustee filed an adversary complaint seeking to have Ms. Pearson’s discharge denied due to her misappropriation of the tax refund with intent to defraud creditors, in violation of section 727(a)(2)(A). “In our view, the (trustee’s) complaint states a plausible claim that Ms. Pearson’s failure to turn over to the Chapter 13 bankruptcy estate the required portion of the tax refund was part of a scheme to hinder and delay creditors.”

However, the Tenth Circuit Court rejected the reasoning of the lower courts in finding that the complaint failed to state a claim for relief due to an absence of “fraud markers” and the fact that the complaint failed to negate the possibility of innocent uses of the tax refund. Rather, the circuit court noted that cases under 727(a)(2)(A) are fact-specific and not subject to rigid formulas.

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If you have any questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.