Category Archives: Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions category on the bankruptcy and foreclosure defense blog will explain answers to common questions about debtor defense.

Can I Keep My Tax Refund if I File a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

If you are contemplating about filing for a bankruptcy, you probably have a lot of questions regarding the aftermath. At the top of the list will probably be questions about your tax refund.

Before you file, it’s important you understand that it could affect your refund. In this article, you will learn how chapter 7 could affect your tax refund and also what measures you can take to protect it.

Tax Refund and Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a court-appointed trustee who is a representative of your creditors will collect your assets and liquidate them. The proceeds are used to pay your creditors.

All your assets will be transferred to the bankruptcy estate when you file chapter 7. This includes both tangible assets like your house and car, and intangible assets such as tax refund that is owed to you, but not yet paid.

If you have filed at a time when a tax refund is due, the trustee can claim it or a portion of it along with other assets. Even if your tax return is to be prepared a few months after filing, it will be claimed by the trustee if the refund is owed to you.

The fact that you didn’t know that a tax refund was due does not mean that a refund is not due.

How to Prevent Your Tax Refund from Being Transferred to a Trustee?

Proper timing is important if you want to protect your tax refund. You can prevent your refund from being collected by the trustee if you receive and spend the refund BEFORE you file a Chapter 7 as long asyou spend the money for necessities and you do not pay back money you owe to relatives, and also you do not pay back any creditor more than than the usual payment.  Be prepared to tell the trustee how you spent the money at the 341 creditor’s meeting.

However, you should consult with a bankruptcy attorney before using this strategy to protect your refund. You can easily spend the refund in ways that may seem sensible but can raise red flags upon close evaluation.

Another way you can protect your tax refund after filing for bankruptcy protection is through exemptions. Congress and state laws have established exemptions. The federal or state exemptions can be claimed by filing Schedule C: The Property You Claim as Exempt (individuals).

You can use cash-on-hand exemption ($475..00) or wildcard exemptions ($1,250.000) for protecting your tax refund, However, you can use the exemptions only if they have not been used to exempt other assets. Also, you should note that to claim exemptions in a particular state, you must have lived in the state for about two years prior to filing for bankruptcy.

Moreover, earned income credit (EIC) and child tax credit (CTC) are exempted from the bankruptcy estate without the need to claim them. EIC is a benefit for individuals with low to moderate income. On the other hand, CTC provides a credit of up to $1,000 per child under the age of 17.

You should consult with an experienced  Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer to know more options about protecting your tax refund when filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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Attorney Eli Tamkin is a Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer.  He has been practicing law since 1989 and in Cleveland Ohio since 1994. Since then, he has dealt with a variety of legal issues, including bankruptcy, real estate, divorce, personal injury, and probate. Many times, answering questions on bankruptcy draws on knowledge of other legal areas as well. His experience as an attorney in these other areas, as well as in bankruptcy enables him to address your particular needs and to offer you advice that is applicable to

Can Taxes be Discharged in Bankruptcy?

It is a general misconception that taxes can’t be discharged in bankruptcy. While you cannot eliminate all taxes, there is a possibility of discharging some.

In this article, you will know the cases when you are allowed to reduce your tax liability in bankruptcy.

Taxes in Bankruptcy: What You Should Know?

Bankruptcy can provide you relief from the tax debt. How much relief you can get depends on different factors. Some of the factors that determine which taxes can be eliminated include the following.

  • Age of taxes — The tax amount due that you wish to discharge must be due at least 3 years before you file for bankruptcy.
  • Assessment of taxes — The IRS must have assessed your income tax due at least 240 days before filing for bankruptcy.
  • Type of taxes involved — Only income and sales taxes can be discharged in bankruptcy. You cannot discharge other types such as payroll or property taxes when you file for bankruptcy.
  • Timely submission of taxes —The tax return for the amount due must have been filed at least 2 years prior to filing a bankruptcy petition.
  • Apart from the above rules, you should also note that bankruptcy won’t help if a person has tried to evade taxes using a fake social security number or other fraudulent manner in the past. However, this exception applies only to willful evasion of taxes. If a person has made an honest mistake in entering the wrong information, the tax liability can be discharged through bankruptcy.

Another important thing you should note is that you can’t eliminate tax lien on your property when you file for bankruptcy. You need to pay the tax lien if you want to sell your property. However, the IRS sometimes agrees to lift the lien. You can request the IRS to lift the lien by filing tax Form 12277.

 

Final Remarks about Taxes in Bankruptcy

Taxes in bankruptcy is a complex topic. Make sure that you have all tax records before filing. The court will ask you to submit a copy of the most recent tax return.

Getting the help of a bankruptcy lawyer will help you navigate through these complex laws

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Attorney Eli Tamkin is a Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer.  He has been practicing law since 1989 and in Cleveland Ohio since 1994. Since then, he has dealt with a variety of legal issues, including bankruptcy, real estate, divorce, personal injury, and probate. Many times, answering questions on bankruptcy draws on knowledge of other legal areas as well. His experience in these other areas, as well as in bankruptcy enables him to address your particular needs and to offer you advice that is applicable to

What Happens to All my Debts on My Credit Report after I File a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a viable option when you’re overwhelmed with financial difficulties. It releases you from personal liabilities for most debts, depending on your financial situation. However, before you file, you should know about the aftermath.

One important question that you need to consider when filing a Chapter 7 is what happens to your debts on your credit report. Knowing the answer to this question will ensure that you don’t face unexpected financial problems after filing.

Debts on Credit Card Report After Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

After you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there is a Stay imposed by the Court whereby creditors are prohibited from engaging in any more collection activities.  About 3 months after you file, or about 2 months after the 341 creditors meeting, the Court will issue an order, discharging you of you debts.

But discharge of a debt after a Chapter 7 does not erase your financial history.

All your debts will still show on your credit report. However, the report will also show that your debts are discharged and you have zero debt.

But why are your debts shown in the credit card report? Shouldn’t the debts be wiped out from the credit report once they are discharged?

To understand why credit card report shows discharged debts, you should know the purpose of the report.

Information in the credit report is used by credit agencies to assess your credit worthiness. In order to help credit agencies to properly assess your risk, the credit reporting agencies don’t wipe out debts that are discharged in bankruptcy.  The debts will remain in the credit report for 10 years after filing for bankruptcy protection.

How Will Bankruptcy Status Affect Your Credit Score?

A  bankruptcy can have a negative effect on your credit score;  However, it is possible to Repair your credit score over time. The most effective way to restore your credit score is for a creditor to report to the credit bureau that you paid a bill. . You should consider paying your bills as early as possible as this will have a major impact on your credit score.

In conclusion, a bankruptcy will have a negative impact on your credit score. But the negative consequence will wear off with time, and you will be able to rebuild your credit. For more information on how debts will affect your credit history after filing a Chapter 7, you should contact an experienced Cleveland bankruptcy attorney.

A bankruptcy lawyer will help you not only discharge debts quickly, but also provide guidance on how to improve your credit score. You can get information on how to discharge both secured and unsecured debts by filing a Chapter 7.  Moreover, he will assist you in removing false status reported in your credit report. This is a time-consuming and extremely difficult process that can only be solved with the help of an attorney.

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Attorney Eli Tamkin is a Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer.  He has been practicing law since 1989 and in Cleveland Ohio since 1994. Since then, he has dealt with a variety of legal issues, including bankruptcy, real estate, divorce, personal injury, and probate. Many times, answering questions on bankruptcy draws on knowledge of other legal areas as well. His experience in these other areas, as well as in bankruptcy enables him to address your particular needs and to offer you advice that is applicable to

Can I Rehabilitate My Credit Report after Bankruptcy, and How?

Yes, you can rehabilitate your credit report after bankruptcy. Even though the bankruptcy details remain on your credit report for as much as ten years, you can immediately begin to improve your score after filing for bankruptcy. This is quite important considering the fact that credit companies, including car finances and mortgagors, will examine your credit report. Credit reporting companies generally look at your outstanding debt, your payment history, your length of credit history, and also how much new credit you are seeking; all of these are put together to determine your credit score.

 
The American economy in a sense is paradoxical: While one goes into bankruptcy because he or she has defaulted in paying off debts, one of the fastest means of rehabilitating your credit report is to spend even more and establish a better credit history. It is believed that your power to spend more after bankruptcy translates into increase earning power to show you are more credit worthy and responsible.

 
But before applying for new credit cards, try to purchase within your means, paying off your bills in full at the end of every month; the essential thing is to improve your repayment habit. Paying off debts in full when they are due, and making sure your debt is as low as possible when compared to your available credit, will enhance your ability to earn more, and that will put you in a better light when it’s time to borrow money. In other words, always try to spend within your means before you borrow more money. Adopting this approach when you assume more debt will help to rehabilitate credit report as you will make your payments in full and on time; and eventually, if this process is continued and improved upon, your credit report will become much better.

 
Talk to a professional bankruptcy attorney or credit counsel to properly guide you in your quest to rehabilitate and improve on your credit rating. Going into bankruptcy is not an end in itself, but an opportunity to make a fresh start, and will need to make wise financial short and long term decisions.

 
Summary
The blog explains that it is possible to rehabilitate and improve on the credit report. It also highlights the steps necessary to be taken to achieve this over time.

 

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Attorney Eli Tamkin is a Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer.  He has been practicing law since 1989 and in Cleveland Ohio since 1994. Since then, he has dealt with a variety of legal issues, including bankruptcy, real estate, divorce, personal injury, and probate. Many times, answering questions on bankruptcy draws on knowledge of other legal areas as well. His experience in these other areas, as well as in bankruptcy enables him to address your particular needs and to offer you advice that is applicable to your situation.

Can I Keep My Car if I file for Bankruptcy?

The law permits you to keep one vehicle whose value or equity after reducing any lien for financing is equal to $3,675.00 or less. You can determine the general value of your car by Googling NADA or Kelly’s Blue Book and checking it out there. The trustee may valuate your car differently than that amount, but it gives you a general idea as to the value. You should also reduce the value based on the number of miles driven and the condition of your vehicle. The vehicle exemption under Ohio law protects a vehicle with a value up to $3,675.00; you will be able to add onto that another exemption, called, “wild” car of up to $1,225.00.

 
If the equity in your car as discussed above is less than the combined exemptions listed, you will be able to keep your car. But if the equity in your is over that amount, and you still want to keep your car, then you may have to pay to the trustee the difference between the value and your exemptions. So, for example, if after your car is paid off in full from financing, it is worth $6,000.00; and you apply the car exemption of $3,675.00 and the wild card of $1,225.00, the total value of the car that will be protected totals $4,900.00. Subtract that amount from $6,000.00, the Blue Book value of your car. So in order to keep your vehicle, you will have to pay approximately $1,100.00. However, that amount may vary depending on how much the trustee has valuated your car. Usually the trustee allows installment payments to be made. If you do not pay the trustee, the trustee may file a motion in court to sell your car at an auction.

 
On the other hand, if your car is being financed you can also deduct the amount you owe on the note to further reduce the equity of the car. An important point to note is that you are behind in your car payments, a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy will only stall the collection proceedings temporarily, and the finance company may file a motion to repossess your car. Unless you get current on your payments before you file, the financing company may eventually repossess your vehicle, unless your Attorney works out a payment arrangement. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy on the other hand is designed to allow you to pay off the prearrange over a period of time, usually 3-5 years; in that case you would get long term relief for your car payments with a Chapter 13.

 
To get a better handle on what you are entitled to with respect of Ohio law and the total motor vehicle exemption ceiling, talk to an attorney proficient in bankruptcy laws and processes; this would give you a clear idea of what the status of your car before you file for bankruptcy.

 
Summary
The blog explains when the trustee can “take” your car and how you can avoid that. It avers that it depends on the condition of your vehicle at the time you file the bankruptcy and the exemptions that come into play to protect that value.

 

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Attorney Eli Tamkin is a Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer.  He has been practicing law since 1989 and in Cleveland Ohio since 1994. Since then, he has dealt with a variety of legal issues, including bankruptcy, real estate, divorce, personal injury, and probate. Many times, answering questions on bankruptcy draws on knowledge of other legal areas as well. His experience in these other areas, as well as in bankruptcy enables him to address your particular needs and to offer you advice that is applicable to your situation.

Can I Disharge my Mortgage Note in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Still Keep my Home?

Generally, yes you may if your loan is modified in mediation; but you should consult an attorney about your particular situation.  In many instances the bank will approve a loan modification even though you have already discharged your debts, including your mortgage note, in a bankruptcy; however, as will be discussed next, you will nevertheless be liable for that note if you sign a reaffirmation agreement with the bank during your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

Summary

While a homeowner generally can proceed to mediation after discharging the mortgage note in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there are exceptions to this rule, and one should consult with a bankruptcy attorney.

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Attorney Eli Tamkin is a Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer.  He has been practicing law since 1989 and in Cleveland Ohio since 1994. Since then, he has dealt with a variety of legal issues, including bankruptcy, real estate, divorce, personal injury, and probate. Many times, answering questions on bankruptcy draws on knowledge of other legal areas as well. His experience in these other areas, as well as in bankruptcy enables him to address your particular needs and to offer you advice that is applicable to your situation.

Can I Mediate My Foreclosure Case if a Sheriff Sale Has Already Been Set?

Yes.  The Court may approve your request to mediate even though a sheriff sale has been set.  While the mediation will not stop the sale, that sale will not be approved or “confirmed” by the Court.  The Court will first wait to see what the outcome is of the mediation; ie., whether a deal can be worked out with the bank.

Nevertheless, you should still check the court’s docket periodically because at times the court can make a mistake and still confirm the sale. This has happened to me on occasion and I have had to file motions to vacate the sale in emergency hearings.

Summary

While mediation will stop the foreclosure process, it will not stop a sheriff sale; that sale goes forward as scheduled, but the court will generally not confirm the sale and will wait to see the outcome of the mediation.

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Attorney Eli Tamkin is a Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer.  He has been practicing law since 1989 and in Cleveland Ohio since 1994. Since then, he has dealt with a variety of legal issues, including bankruptcy, real estate, divorce, personal injury, and probate. Many times, answering questions on bankruptcy draws on knowledge of other legal areas as well. His experience in these other areas, as well as in bankruptcy enables him to address your particular needs and to offer you advice that is applicable to your situation.

Can I File a Bankruptcy and also Save My Home From Foreclosure?

Yes, you can file a bankruptcy and then afterwards try to mediate your mortgage note.

When you file a Bankruptcy,  all of your creditors must stop all collection activities, including the bank. This means that if there is a foreclosure against you that must stop, and your lawyer should tell the court about it. The bank will need permission from the bankruptcy court to foreclose on your home.

After the bank receives that permission and files a complaint, you can then request mediation from the court. However,  getting the Court to approve your request to mediate is only the first step; after that you must now get the bank to agree to modify your mortgage note.

Summary

The bank must ask the Bankruptcy Court for permission to file a foreclosure complaint against you. After you have been served with a complaint, you can then request the court to mediate.

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Attorney Eli Tamkin is a Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer.  He has been practicing law since 1989 and in Cleveland Ohio since 1994. Since then, he has dealt with a variety of legal issues, including bankruptcy, real estate, divorce, personal injury, and probate. Many times, answering questions on bankruptcy draws on knowledge of other legal areas as well. His experience in these other areas, as well as in bankruptcy enables him to address your particular needs and to offer you advice that is applicable to your situation.

I am in Foreclosure and Want to Keep My Home, are there Alternatives to a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Yes, if you want to keep your home there are other options besides Chapter 13s.  I always view filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy as a last resort to saving a home. The reason is that in a Chapter 13, the bank may not modify your mortgage note; also with a Chapter 13, you need to be making enough money to not only stay current in your mortgage payments, but also to pay off all your mortgage arrearage over three to five years.

Before looking at a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, I first see if my Client can qualify for mediation. This is a court established program in Ohio where the homeowner requests the bank to modify his mortgage note. One can apply to the court to mediate only after the bank has filed a foreclosure complaint to take back his home. From my experience, it is easier to get the bank to modify your note—with more favorable terms- in court established mediation then to go directly with the bank outside of mediation.

Summary

The upside to a foreclosure action is that you may request the bank to modify your mortgage loan in mediation.

If the bank modifies your mortgage note, it will likely put all of your arrearage at the back end of the note. This is known as capitalizing your arrearage. The bank may also lower your interest rate.  The bank may also extend the terms of your note, extending it out over more years, thereby making your payments lower.

Summary

While a Chapter 13 is good for saving ones home, a court established mediation is generally better. If a homeowner wants to save his home, he may be able to modify in note in a mediation.

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Attorney Eli Tamkin is a Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer.  He has been practicing law since 1989 and in Cleveland Ohio since 1994. Since then, he has dealt with a variety of legal issues, including bankruptcy, real estate, divorce, personal injury, and probate. Many times, answering questions on bankruptcy draws on knowledge of other legal areas as well. His experience in these other areas, as well as in bankruptcy enables him to address your particular needs and to offer you advice that is applicable to your situation.

Some Differences between Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 Bankruptcies

There are two kinds of consumer Bankruptcies, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13s.

Chapter 7s deal primarily with discharging or wiping out ones unsecured debts.   These are debts where the creditor does not have any collateral, such as house or a car.  Unsecured debts include credit cards, medical bill and most private judgments, to name a few.  A Chapter 7 though will not help you to save your home if you are behind in your payments.

Chapter 13s, on the other hand, will help you if you are in foreclosure.  With these bankruptcies, your arrearage is paid off over a period of 3 to 5 years.  Also, in Chapter 13s, you do not eliminate your unsecured debts at one time, like with Chapter 7s,  but pay them off over time, sometimes pennies on the dollar.

Summary

Chapter 7s generally deal primarily with wiping out unsecured debts while Chapter 13s deal with saving your home or car if you are behind in your payments.

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Attorney Eli Tamkin is a Cleveland bankruptcy lawyer.  He has been practicing law since 1989 and in Cleveland Ohio since 1994. Since then, he has dealt with a variety of legal issues, including bankruptcy, real estate, divorce, personal injury, and probate. Many times, answering questions on bankruptcy draws on knowledge of other legal areas as well. His experience in these other areas, as well as in bankruptcy enables him to address your particular needs and to offer you advice that is applicable to your situation.

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