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Tax consequences of bankruptcy

eliminate income tax debt with bankruptcyIt’s tax season again, and with the COVID tax delay, taxes are almost due. Every spring, we hear lots of questions from potential clients about the tax implications of filing for bankruptcy. It’s a fairly simple answer – it depends on whether the debt was discharged in bankruptcy or just forgiven by the creditor.

Tax implications of debts discharged in bankruptcy

If your debt is discharged as part of your bankruptcy case, there are no income tax consequences. Since the debt is excluded from your gross income, you do not have to worry about anything with the IRS.

Many times, you will receive a 1099-C form , which is for debt that has been canceled or forgiven. If your receive one, you will just need to file Form 982 with your taxes, which lets the IRS know that the debt was in fact discharged in your bankruptcy case.

What about debts cancelled outside of bankruptcy?

If you have borrowed from a commercial lender and that lender later forgives or cancels your debt, you will most likely have to include the canceled amount as income when you file your taxes. Typically, loan proceeds do not count as income because you are obligated to pay back the loan. Once the loan is canceled or forgiven, that makes the loan count as income.

If you are in this situation, your lender will have sent you Form 1099-C, “Cancelation of debt to the debtor.” They are required to send this form by the 31st of January of the year following the year when your debt was canceled.

The unpaid portion of your loan will be reported as income, unless:

  • You are insolvent when the debt is canceled.
  • You operate a farm and the debt results from your farm, more than half of your income from the last 3 years was from farming, and the loan was owed to an agency regularly engaged in lending.
  • It is a non-recourse loan
  • It is excepted by the Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007

If you are in a rough financial spot and you are considering bankruptcy – but wondering about the tax implications – call us today at 214-760-7777 and schedule a free consultation. We will walk you through the various parts of bankruptcy so you fully understand how things will work.

Should you keep your car after bankruptcy?

should-you-keep-your-car-after-bankruptcyIt’s a question we hear all the time – after a client files their bankruptcy case, they ask us “Should I keep my car?”

Many times, if you’re filing for bankruptcy, you’ve been struggling with debt for quite a while, so it’s likely that you were behind on car payments. Now that the bankruptcy case is filed, you’re wondering if keeping the car is a good choice to make.

In most cases, your car is an absolute necessity – you’ve got to use it to get to work, or to handle everyday errands. In some cases though, the amount owed on your auto loan might not make sense after your bankruptcy case.

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5 things to do after you file bankruptcy

what to do after bankruptcyYou have just filed your bankruptcy case, and now you are on pins and needles. You’ve gotten all the paperwork together, answered all our “lawyer questions”, and filed all of your schedules with the court. What happens now?

Actually – not much… Most of the work has already been done at this point.

It is important to stay engaged, though. You do not want to hand everything to your attorney and then go silent.

We get the “what next?” question all the time, so we thought we would put together this list of 5 things to do AFTER you have filed your bankruptcy case.

1. Ask us questions

If you don’t understand something, let us know – there are no stupid questions! Let us know you are confused and we will take the time to explain things.

2. Open all your mail

Most of our clients are tired of collection notices, so they are not quick to open their mail. Make sure you are opening everything so you will see anything we send to you. We will send you a copy of everything so you know what is going on and what we are doing for you.

3. Respond quickly

If we ask you for information or any documents, don’t make us wait. Bankruptcy cases typically move pretty quickly, so we do not want a delay to complicate your case.

4. Keep us posted

Major life events can affect a bankruptcy case. If you have changed jobs, lost your job, had a major accident, or moved, you need to let us know.

5. Don’t worry!

Bankruptcy is confusing and scary – but our staff does this all the time. We have years of experience with bankruptcy cases, and most cases have no unexpected complications.

We are always here to help! If you have any questions or concerns, or you just need something explained, give us a call at 214-760-7777 and we will explain whatever you need.

The timeline for Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Bankruptcy can be an incredibly stressful process – typically our clients are struggling with overwhelming debt and dealing with annoying collections calls, while trying to figure out how to move forward. Most people are curious about the timeline for a typical bankruptcy case, so we thought this infographic would help easily explain the process for a typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy timeline

Will there be more bankruptcies because of COVID-19?

As most of the country is experiencing the second round of coronavirus-related lockdowns, many Americans are wondering how COVID will affect the already stressed economy. While bankruptcy cases have slowed in recent months, most experts agree that the number of cases filed will rise significantly as we move into 2021.

Many Americans were able to make it through the first round of lockdowns this spring because of government stimulus checks, concessions from landlords, and forbearance from creditors. With no stimulus in the near term and lockdowns causing more businesses to drastically reduce hours or even shutter, it’s likely that many people will struggle.

Even with the downturn caused by COVID-19, there have been fewer bankruptcy cases in 2020 than in 2019 – there were 27% fewer cases in August compared to 2019. In all likelihood, the number of bankruptcy cases will likely skyrocket next year, possibly setting records. (more…)

6 Tips to Avoid Holiday Debt

6 tips to avoid holiday debt on Black FridayThe holiday season is upon us again, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday just a few weeks away. The holiday season, and Black Friday in particular, are designed to get Americans to spend as much money as possible. This year, the COVID lockdowns will change the way people shop for the holidays. The doorbuster shopping events won’t happen this year – everyone will be shopping from home.

Shopping online can be more dangerous for your debt situation, since you’re not physically at the store and paying attention to the prices of the items you’re buying. Plus, credit cards give you the illusion that you can spend more money than you currently have, so many Americans fall deeper into debt during the holiday spending season. Making matters worse, gifts bought on credit cards end up costing far more than if you paid cash, once you factor in interest rates and finance charges. There’s also the fact that if you max out your credit limit, your credit score will drop.

Once the holiday season is over, the warm fuzzies disappear, and you’re left with even more debt. This year, we thought we’d share a few holiday spending tips to help you avoid over-spending, and hopefully help you avoid any more debt. Once you realize that Black Friday is specifically designed to get you to spend more money than you planned on spending, it’s easier to avoid the holiday credit card blowout.

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Bankruptcy and Divorce – What You Need To Know

bankruptcy and divorce in DallasMany times, financial difficulty leads to stress in a marriage. In cases where the financial stress leads to divorce, the issues often lead to bankruptcy filings.

The question that we hear the most often from clients regarding divorce is “What should we do first – the divorce or the bankruptcy?”

There’s actually no easy answer for that question. Every situation is unique, so if you’re asking the same question, you should consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Your attorney will be able to look at all the factors and suggest the route that will work best for you.

In general, if certain conditions are present, filing for joint bankruptcy before the divorce will be the fastest, most cost-effective option:

  • Both spouses know that they’re going to file bankruptcy
  • There are few, if any, assets that would be exempt under bankruptcy laws, so not much will be divided in the divorce
  • The emotional situation isn’t so hostile that the spouses wouldn’t cooperate in a bankruptcy proceeding

If one spouse won’t agree to joint bankruptcy

If your spouse won’t agree to a joint bankruptcy, you can still file bankruptcy on your own. When your debt is discharged, the creditors would then start collection efforts for the entire debt against your spouse (since the debt is the responsibility of both spouses). (more…)

We shot some new commercials!

Last month, we shot a few new commercials, and we wanted to share them here on the site… We know that the unprecedented situation caused by COVID has put many DFW residents in a precarious financial situation. If you’re struggling with debt, give us a call at 214-760-7777 for a free, no-obligation consultation. We can help you get back on the road to financial freedom.

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Laid off because of COVID in Dallas? Bankruptcy can help

Even with many states starting to open up after the lockdown quarantine caused by the coronavirus, many companies are filing for bankruptcy – several months without income and mounting debt is an awful combination.

Many huge companies have filed for bankruptcy, and the list continues to grow. Well known brands have declared bankruptcy, including J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, J. Crew, Gold’s Gym, Tuesday Morning, Bar Louie, Dean & DeLuca, Advantage Rent a Car, and Hertz.

Coresight Research is a company that tracks retail openings and closings, and at the beginning of the year, they projected that 8,000 stores would close this year. They’ve recently updated their projection to 25,000.

These companies won’t necessarily go out of business – filing for bankruptcy allows protection during a restructure, so debt can be shed, operations can be redesigned, and low-profit locations can be closed. (more…)

Filing bankruptcy because of the coronavirus

Over the last month, over 22 million Americans filed for unemployment because of the shelter in place orders that have been put in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Many small businesses have been absolutely crushed by the forced closure, and those that were able to pivot and provide modified services are still hurting due to the drastically reduced demand. If people aren’t leaving their homes, they’re simply not buying.

The number of jobless Americans is expected to continue to grow at an exponential rate. A research paper released in late March by the St. Louis Federal Reserve estimated that we could hit an unemployment rate as high as 32% – that’s about 47 million Americans.

That’s an almost mind-boggling number of people who won’t be able to pay their mortgage, rent, or other bills – let alone buy groceries and other essentials. It’s been estimated that over half of Americans have already lost some income due to the lockdown.

Federal, state, and local governments are working hard to provide financial safety nets – the Payroll Protection Program was rolled out and quickly depleted. Mortgage lenders and automotive finance companies are deferring payments, and if you meet the requirements, you’ll receive a federal stimulus check. Unfortunately, for the millions out of work, the government stimulus check simply won’t be enough to keep them afloat.

What should you do if you’ve been laid off?

Your first step should be looking at your budget. Figure out what you can do to save money immediately. Talk to your creditors, most will try to assist you if you’ve been laid off during the pandemic. Most mortgage, car, and credit card payments can be deferred. Student loans can be deferred as well. Many cities across the country have prohibited utility shut-offs – but skipping utility bills could lead to massive debt later down the road.

Once you’ve spoken to your creditors, you’ll have a better picture of your financial obligations. If you’ve got enough in savings, that might be enough to get you through the lockdown – but you’ll need to pay attention to how much you need to spend on essentials. You might be able to last longer by deferring non-essential bills and paying your minimum amount on others.

If you’re already at the point where the money has run out, or will run out in the near future, give us a call at 214-760-7777 – we’re happy to talk through your financial picture and let you know what your options are. It’s a free, no-pressure consultation – we’re not going to force you to file for bankruptcy, and in fact, might advise against it if there are better options on the table.

What will COVID bankruptcy look like?

If bankruptcy is inevitable, you’ll end up filing for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to wipe out your debts permanently, with no obligation to ever pay them back. Chapter 7 is best for individuals who aren’t able to pay back a significant portion (or all) of their debt. Typically, this is best when there’s a massive amount of credit card debt or a huge medical debt.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is more of a reorganization of your debts. If you’ve got a regular income stream and have simply fallen behind, Chapter 13 is a better option. A plan is created to repay all (or most) of your debt with installment payments.

For both types of bankruptcy, you’d typically have to meet with an attorney and then go to court to get a judge to approve your case. During the COVID lockdown, everything can be done online. We can do everything over the phone or through virtual meetings, and the courts are allowing cases to be filed virutally so social distancing can still be observed.

If you’ve lost your job or been furloughed due to the coronavirus and you’re falling behind on bills, call us at 214-760-7777 – we’re here to help! Even if bankruptcy isn’t right for your situation, we’ll help point you in the right direction to help with your finances and plan for your future.

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