Though few Jacksonville bankruptcy filers make a million dollars a year, it is still possible for such a debtor to get a discharge in a Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy. In 2005 Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) which instituted all sorts of hoops debtors now have to jump through to successfully file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The most common “hoop” is known as the “Means Test“.
The Means Test requires under 11 U.S.C. § 707(b) that a debtor whose debts are primarily consumer show that their gross income is less than the average gross income for their family size in their geographic region. Let me say that again in English, “If your debts are mostly from non-business transactions you have to prove to the court that you, your spouse and one kid make less than the average married couple with one kid in Jacksonville.” Most people skip over the first part of this paragraph and focus on the income and family size. However, if you can show that your debts are primarily non-consumer or “Business related” debts you can bypass the means test altogether. For example, if you make $1,000,000 a year and you are a family size of one, you far exceed the median income as stated by the IRS, but if you can show that your debts are more business than consumer, you can file Chapter 7 anyway.
This loophole was put into place by Congress to encourage businesses. We’ve all heard stories of a large percentage of small business failing within their first year. Apparently Congress heard this too and decided to allow business debtors to file Chapter 7 instead of forcing them into a long, costly Chapter 13 to encourage people to take risks and open businesses. Whether it is actually good for the economy is up for debate, but Congress thought so, so we now have the 11 U.S.C. § 707(b) exception to the means test.
If your debts are primarily business related and you have a substantial income, consider your options in Chapter 7 before jumping into a Chapter 13. Contact a Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney or call us at (904) 685-1200 for a free consultation.