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Can I file Bankruptcy If I Didn’t Pay my taxes?

  • By: Christopher Benson
  • Published: September 18, 2014

When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must provide the Court with your last filed tax return.

When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must have the previous 4 years of tax returns filed.

People who are in need of bankruptcy protection have often tried everything they could to keep from filing bankruptcy, including diverting tax money to pay off debt and stay above water. But when that fails, that strategy can backfire, since you have to have copies of your tax returns to file for bankruptcy.

In 2005, President Bush signed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, which made it harder to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. That act included a new requirement that tax returns have to be submitted in the bankruptcy filing.

So what if you didn’t pay taxes? Whether you didn’t file a tax return because you didn’t work due to unemployment or illness, or because you couldn’t stand to look at one more bill, you can still file for bankruptcy protection, but it gets complicated.

If you’re filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, technically, you have until your 341 meeting of the creditors to file tax returns for the four years prior to your bankruptcy filing. Copies of the returns also need to go to your bankruptcy trustee, and if you can’t get them, you risk getting your case thrown out if you can’t meet that one-month deadline.

However, it is a better strategy to have all of your tax returns filed before you actually file your case. That way you know if you also need to pay your tax obligation during the Chapter 13 and you can budget for that as well.

If you’re filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you have until one week before your meeting of the creditors to get the court your most recent tax return—most recent, not the past year’s.

Over the past 27 years, the Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson has helped over 2,300 of Washington clients take control of their financial situation. We can stop your garnishment and change your monthly payments for all your combined unsecured debt, and if you have had more than $600 garnished within the last 90 days, we can get all of the money back in most cases. But you have to act quickly–call (253) 815-6940 for your free consultation, or email us today. Evening and weekend appointments available.

Christopher Benson

About the Author Chris served on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity
Seattle/S. King County for 10 years and served as Vice President
of the organization during part of that time. Read More