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Can I keep my tax return if I file Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

If you get a joint or an individual return when you file taxes, you may be wondering if you will lose it if you file for bankruptcy. As with just about everything in bankruptcy, this is determined by several factors. Bankruptcy trustees care about your assets and your assets, like a house or a car, can be protected by a bankruptcy exemption which is why exemption laws were put in place. They want to use the assets that don't fall under state exemptions to pay off creditors. Though you can keep assets you receive after filing, your annual tax refund can be a little more involved. As the end of the year approaches, you should start gathering all your papers to prepare to file. It is highly advisable to contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney to determine the best type of bankruptcy for you. With proper legal advice, they can help you understand the tax laws, understand the different types of bankruptcy, and put together an appropriate bankruptcy plan.

When did you file your taxes and when did you file your bankruptcy?

1. If you filed your federal income tax return last year prior to filing bankruptcy, unspent money goes to the estate and is treated like cash. You can keep cash when you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but only if the cash qualifies as an exempt asset.

2. If it is the year of bankruptcy, a tax refund based on the income you received before you file for bankruptcy goes to the estate. You can keep a portion of the refund to the extent that the refund is based on income earned after the filing date.

3. The year after the refund you can keep the entire federal tax refund.

The Solution

There are several ways that enable you to keep your refund due to timing. If you have a timely file, you can adjust your exemptions to reduce the amount of the return. You can also cover the amount of the return with an exemption in bankruptcy. It is also possible to keep the refund if you will be spending the amount on necessary expenses. Qualified expenses include things such as: