Can I Include Back Owed Income Taxes in My Bankruptcy?

by Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach on July 25, 2011

in Bankruptcy


Many people who are filing for bankruptcy wonder if they are able to have back owed income taxes discharged during the bankruptcy process. The short answer is: Maybe. The type of bankruptcy you are filing will determine whether you can include back owed income taxes in your bankruptcy, or not. Educating yourself on the different items that can – and cannot – be included in your bankruptcy filing can help you make the most informed decision about your finances, and determine whether it really is economically wise to proceed with such a drastic step.

Back Owed Income Taxes and Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

In most cases, all income tax debts are discharged when you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but other taxes such as payroll tax will still be owed.

Income taxes must meet all of the following requirements if they are to be discharged when filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy:

  • They are solely income taxes – no payroll taxes, trust fund taxes, or any type of debt you’ve accumulated because of a penalty from fraud
  • Taxes were assessed a minimum of 240 days before you filed for bankruptcy
  • The taxes are due three years from the date of your bankruptcy filing
  • Your tax returns were filed at least 2 years before filing for bankruptcy
  • You have not committed any type of fraud or are guilty of tax evasion
  • You have proof that you filed your tax returns for the last four years

Back Owed Income Taxes and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, only some of your back taxes may be discharged and most have to be repaid over the next three to five years. You will be set up with a repayment plan that usually runs three years, unless you are making less than the state median income, in which case it will be about five years.

Income taxes must meet all of the following requirements if they are to be discharged when filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy:

  • You do not have secured debts of more than $1.01 million
  • You do not have unsecured debts of more than $337K
  • Your tax returns were field at least 4 years before filing for bankruptcy
  • You’re not including business taxes in the filing
  • You are disclosing all of your assets, liabilities and income and are not guilty of any fraudulent activities
  • You are still paying all taxes with  a lien filed against them
  • You are submitting a Statement of Financial Affairs
  • You agree to pay court filing fees and taxes from the previous year
  • You have completed credit counseling with a Federal government agency
  • You have completed a comprehensive budget analysis
  • You are able to pay at least $100 a month for the next 5 years
  • You agree to submit a payment plan proposal to the court for review

As you can see, it’s not very easy to have your income taxes discharged when you are filing bankruptcy. It is in your best interest to work with a bankruptcy attorney to determine what types of debts can be discharged, and what you need to do to request a discharge of income taxes owed.


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Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach

Personal Finance Expert and Co-Founder at Ask The Money Coach.com
Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach is a personal finance expert, speaker, and author of numerous books on personal finance. She appears frequently as an expert commentator on television, radio and in print.

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