Articles Posted in Taxes

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Americans can’t go online, turn on the TV or go shopping without being bombarded with news about coronavirus. Our Facebook feeds are rife with posts about the virus and how much impact it will have on our every day lives.  Just a few months ago, we were gearing up for March Madness, spring break at Disneyworld, PGA Golf Tournaments and Lucero at the  Ryman Auditorium.    Now those events have been postponed or canceled, and even Orlando theme parks are closed for the rest of the month.  Just today, IRS  postponed the deadline on which income taxes are due to July 15.

Our lives have changed in a flash.  The Associated Press warns that Americans must brace for new life of no school and growing dread.  We now spend more time in line at Walmart buying toilet paper than we do lining up for Black Friday sales. Parents worry about their jobs while they wonder who’ll watch their children while they are at work since schools have extended spring break or shut down for weeks.

The world has changed.  We are told to practice “social distancing” and not come within so many feet of our fellow human beings. People are wearing medical masks and gloves when they go out. Some people walk around with Lysol bottles.

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With tax season upon us, many Americans are looking forward to getting big tax refunds. Many of us use these refunds to  replace aging appliances, catch up on car payments or put into a vacation fund for when warmer weather finally comes back.   However, many people are also worried about how to deal with debt that they racked up during the holiday season. In order to get relief from this debt, and with holiday ornaments finally put away, many consumers contemplate filing bankruptcy after the New Year begins.  Filing bankruptcy gives consumers a fresh start in their financial life. However, there is a trade-off involved: while filing bankruptcy will wipe out most of your debt, you might have to give up or buy back property that is not “exempt.” Filing for bankruptcy could require you to pay for an asset (usually a car) for which you already paid.

The filing of a bankruptcy case creates an estate similar an estate that is created after someone dies. This estate is made up of one’s assets that are not exempt under the law. The United States government appoints a trustee in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case to liquidate (or sell) any non-exempt assets and use the proceeds to pay unsecured creditors like credit cards. In order to be able to protect property and keep the trustee from taking from you when you file bankruptcy, the Debtor must claim the property is exempt under Florida or federal law. (Florida has “opted-out” of federal Bankruptcy exemptions, so Debtors may only use exemptions under Florida law or non-bankruptcy federal laws.)

The only part of tax refunds that is specifically exempt under Florida law is the part of the refund from the Earned Income Tax Credit. (Although Judge Jennemann in Orlando recently held that Child Tax Credit is exempt in Chapter 7 cases.)  The rest of your tax refund falls under the personal property exemptions under Florida law, which are among the stingiest in the nation. There are no specific exemptions under  Florida law to project the Child Tax Credit; the American Opportunity Tax Credit (which helps families pay for postsecondary exaction); the Lifetime Learning Credit (which helps people who go to college later in life or have to change jobs due to down-sizing or loss of jobs because of technology or free trade agreements); or the Child and Dependent Care Credit (which helps pay daycare costs for working parents). Many of these tax refunds are refundable and therefore give taxpayers a much larger refund than they otherwise would have received. If these refunds cannot be exempt under the law, you could lose them to the Chapter 7 trustee and not be able to spend them  the way in which you intended.

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taxes-150x150Taxes. No one likes having to file taxes. If you are among the million other Americans who don’t only have to file taxes but also have to pay additional taxes each year, you really do not like taxes. When you get hit with a hefty tax bill you are likely unable to pay all of it right away. Most Americans cannot. This then leads to the question of how long do you have to pay the taxes you owe and will you owe this tax debt forever. With the 2017 tax season having come to an end earlier this week, I am sure many Americans are asking this very question right now.

Fortunately, against common belief, there is actually a statute of limitations on IRS debt. A statute of limitations is a state or federal law that sets a specific time limit on how long an entity or individual can try to collect a debt from you. The statute of limitations for the collection of IRS debt is ten years. As with most things, there are some exceptions to this rule. Continue reading →

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protect-money-umbrellaAs 2016 comes to an end, the 2017 Tax Season will begin. Federal law requires that all employers provide their employees with their W2s no later than January 31st, so that federal income taxes may be filed by April 18th. Bankrate predicted in 2015 that thirty percent of the public who would receive a 2014 tax refund would use that refund to assist them with lowering their debt and that many of this thirty percent would use their tax refund to file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. This statistic has remained unchanged for many years.

The most advantageous benefit to using your tax return to help you file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is that using your tax refund to fund your bankruptcy allows you to use your refund in an essential and reasonable manner. When you use your tax refund in an essential and reasonable manner such as filing bankruptcy, then your tax refund most likely will be protected from your creditors and well spent. Continue reading →

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IRS Passport Revocation and Discharge of Income Tax DebtsSenate Bill 1813 will allow for the revocation of passports from anyone who owes more than $50,000 to the Internal Revenue Service. The Bill will Amend Sub-chapter D of Chapter 75 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to read:



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Home Foreclosure Debt Forgiveness BankruptcyThe Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 was enacted as a response to the growing foreclosure problem. More specifically, it addresses the issue of “Debt Forgiveness Income.” Debt Forgiveness Income is an IRS theory that if a debt you owe is forgiven, you have gained in monetary value because you no longer are required to pay that debt. That gain in value is taxable as income despite the fact that you didn’t actually earn any money. For example: Stephen owes $5,000 in old medical bills. He can’t pay the bills, so the hospital forgives the debt and writes it off on their taxes. Come tax time, he will receive a Form 1099 for $5,000 of additional, previously untaxed, income for that year. Now, $5,000 may not be too much of a problem, even in the highest tax bracket this would only increase his taxes by $1,750, the trouble starts when the amount forgiven is higher, as it is with a house.

If Stephen’s home is foreclosed upon and the bank forgives a $50,000 debt, he will owe taxes for his actual annual income, plus this $50,000. You could’ve argued that $5,000 wouldn’t effect what bracket he was in before, but $50,000 is almost certain to increase his tax bracket and will leave him with a minimum of $12,500 in additional tax debt. As a result, Stephen may be in debt for a long time. If he didn’t have the money to pay his mortgage, it doesn’t make sense that he’d have enough money to pay the taxes.

It was because of Stephen’s scenario that the Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 was passed. The act allows a person whose homestead has been foreclosed on to have his debt forgiveness income waived so long as it is less than a million dollars per year.

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When a home is foreclosed on and sold for less than the amount owed, the bank has two options:

1. Sue the ex-homeowner for the deficiency (an amount the bank knows they’re not going to get) or 2. Write the loss off on their corporate taxes.

When a bank writes a loss off on corporate taxes, the amount of the write off becomes Debt Forgiveness Income to the ex-homeowner. The IRS says that when someone’s debt has been forgiven, their total worth has gone up, therefore this counts as income. When this happens, the ex-homeowner will actually get a 1099-C for the difference and will owe income taxes on the new amount.

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Debt can be classified as secured, unsecured, or priority. A secured debt is one that is collateralized by property. This means that if you default on the debt, the creditor can take the property that secures the loan. Your mortgage loan is probably secured by your home. Your auto loan is probably secured by your auto.

An unsecured debt is when you make a promise to repay the debt, but the debt is not secured by any collateral. If you default on the promise, the creditor cannot take your property without obtaining a judgment.

A priority debt is a debt that is entitled to repayment ahead of other debts that you owe. Taxes and some attorney fees are priority debts. A list of priority debts can be found in 11 U.S.C. §507.

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Most debts are dischargeable in bankruptcy. However, there are a few debts that are not:

1. Debts arising from fraudulent conduct 2. Government-backed student loans (unless severe hardship can be shown)

3. Debts stemming from death or personal injuries related to your operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated 4. Certain taxes and fines 5. Some debts not listed on your bankruptcy 6. Domestic support obligations (alimony, child support, etc.)

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When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will pay off your debts through a Chapter 13 Plan that lasts anywhere from 3-5 years. A Chapter 13 Plan allows a debtor to catch up on most any debt, including mortgage arrearages, owed taxes, missed payments on vehicles, HOA dues, legal fees, fines owed to the city or state, and more.

Your unsecured creditors might also get some payments through the Chapter 13 Plan. If they will and how much will they receive is determined by your means test and the amount of unexempt property that you have. Any amount of unsecured debt that you have over this amount will be discharged at the successful conclusion of your Chapter 13 bankruptcy. For example, if you owe $20,000 in unsecured debt and your case only dictates that you must repay $5,000 to unsecured creditors, the $15,000 balance gets discharged or forgiven when you successfully complete your Chapter 13 Plan. If your case dictates that no money must be paid to unsecured creditors, then the entire balance of $20,000 would be forgiven.

To see how a Chapter 13 Plan would be structured for your specific situation, contact a Jacksonville Bankruptcy Attorney today for a free consultation.

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