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Taxes and Bankruptcy

Learn how bankruptcy can help relieve your tax debt and how your tax refund is treated in bankruptcy.

Learn what to look out for if you have tax debts and how to eliminate old tax debts by filing bankruptcy. Plus, learn how to protect your tax refund.

This page is your home base for learning about all things taxes.

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Dealing With Tax Debt In and Out Of Bankruptcy

While bankruptcy isn’t always the best solution, discharging an old tax debt through Chapter 7 bankruptcy or paying it off through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is possible.

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What Happens to My IRS Tax Debt If I File Bankruptcy in 2021?

The most common of all of debts owed to the IRS is back, or unpaid, income taxes. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is an option if your tax debt meets certain requirements.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Bankruptcy and Tax Refunds

It's pretty well-known that tax debts typically can't be discharged in bankruptcy. But what if you're getting a refund? This article answers some of the frequently asked questions about tax refunds and bankruptcy.

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What Happens to Your Tax Refund in Bankruptcy?

When tax season comes, many individuals filing for bankruptcy expect to receive a tax refund check. So what happens to your tax refund when you file for bankruptcy?

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Should I estimate my income if I haven't filed taxes yet?

If you do not have official documents, it is OK to estimate your gross income. If you do not feel comfortable estimating you can look at your most recent pay statement and use it to find your gross (before taxes) income year to date.

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Should file my taxes after my 341 Meeting?

*__It doesn't matter if you file before or after your 341 Meeting.__* The trustee is able to seize any non-exempt money that you were entitled to receive before you filed, and you were entitled to receive this refund (or at least a portion of it) based on what you paid in taxes for the whole year prior to filing.

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Where can I get taxes done for free?

The IRS has free tax help centers available. Type in your [zip code here](https://irs.treasury.gov/freetaxprep/ "zip code here") to find the nearest location. 

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Can I request a tax transcript from the IRS?

Yes. You can order your tax transcript if you do not have it by going to the [IRS website](https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript "irs website"). 

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Unfiled Tax Returns & Bankruptcy

If you were unemployed and weren't required to file your taxes: yes.  If you were employed and you were supposed to file your taxes but didn't: we can't help you at the moment. Please go file your taxes that you were supposed to file and then come back to us. 

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Should I inform my tax preparer about my bankruptcy case

Yes. If you find out that you are owed a refund there may be special instructions provided by your trustee that you will need to follow regarding your refund check that your tax preparer must know before filing your returns.

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What is a tax return?

It is important to take all the necessary steps to make sure that you have copies of your tax returns or transcripts when you file for bankruptcy. Your tax returns will give the Bankruptcy Court and your Trustee an idea of your financial history. To ensure your bankruptcy case goes smoothly make sure to locate copies of them before filing your bankruptcy case, so you don’t have to rush later.

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Tax Credits and Bankruptcy

Tax credits reduce the total tax owed by the individual or family claiming the credit. Many low-income families have all or a portion of such a tax credit refunded to them once their tax return is filed and their eligibility to claim the credit confirmed by the Internal Revenue Service. This article will review some of the most commonly used tax credits available to low-income individuals and how these credits are treated in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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Timing Considerations If Student Loan Company Takes Your Tax Refund

There are not many creditors that can withhold, or set off, your tax refund before it ever hits your bank account. The most common instance of this is when the IRS keeps your refund and applies it to a prior year's balance owed. But that's not the only time this can happen. Another reason for the federal government to withhold all or a portion of your tax refund is if you're in default with federal student loans. Since student loans aren't automatically discharged in bankruptcy, this can be a blessing in disguise. However, timing matters, and depending on when your tax refund was taken by the government, you may be better off waiting a bit to file your bankruptcy case.

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Can a Married Person File Taxes Without Their Spouse?

A married couple filing income tax returns can choose to do so married filing jointly or married filing separately. In the past, the primary reason for filing separate tax returns was to shield one spouse from the tax liability of the other spouse. Couples filing separate returns paid much more in income taxes than couples filing joint returns. Today, with tax law changes, there are situations where filing separately can result in a lower combined tax burden.

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IRS Wage Garnishments

If the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) garnishes your wages for unpaid tax debts, you do have options to stop the IRS. There are a few different tax procedures you can use to stop a garnishment. In some cases, it may even be a good idea to file bankruptcy.

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Tax Refund Offset and Timing a Bankruptcy Case

There are several different federal, state, and local government agencies that can intercept your federal tax refund if you owe money to these agencies. This procedure is known as a tax offset. This article will look at which agencies can take your refund and how bankruptcy can help you with tax refund offsets.

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Tax Refunds and Bankruptcy Exemptions

Tax refunds can be used to pay creditors if they're not protected by an exemption. This is an overview of states with no or little protection for tax refunds.

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Can the IRS Take Your Home in 2021?

The short answer is yes, legally the IRS can take your home. But it’s important to remember that as a taxpayer, you have options. This article explains how the IRS goes about taking someone’s home, and what you can do to stop it from happening to you.

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What Is The IRS Statute Of Limitations In 2021?

Most people in the United States have to deal with tax issues at least once in their lives. If those tax issues lead to tax debt, generally, the IRS has 10 years to collect it. The 10 year period starts with the filing of the return or assessment by the IRS. However, there are a few situations that can pause this 10-year period, which gives the IRS more time to collect.

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Using an Offer in Compromise to Settle a Tax Debt

An Offer in Compromise is a good choice when there's a large debt covering more than one tax year. The IRS will only consider an offer if you meet all the eligibility criteria and the IRS finds that making you pay your entire tax burden would cause extreme financial hardship.

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Filing a Late Tax Return to Claim Your Refund

You can file a late tax return to claim your refund as long as the return is filed no later than 3 years after the due date of the return. If you have withholdings on your paycheck, there's a good chance you have a refund due. Even if nothing was withheld from your paycheck, there's a chance you have a refund due through "refundable tax credits."

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How to File a Form 1040-V Payment Voucher

IRS Form 1040-V is a payment voucher that taxpayers often send when submitting payments to the Internal Revenue Service. This form shows the amount they're paying. This article will explore when to use a 1040-V, exactly how to fill out a 1040-V, and alternative payment options that don't require a 1040-V.

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What Is an IRS Collection Due Process Hearing?

When the IRS attempts to levy or place a lien on your property, you have the right to a collection due process (CDP) hearing. If you're like most people, you're panicking. Take deep breaths. This article explains the rights you still have and how you can avoid enforcement of the lien or levy.

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How Do I File Back Taxes in 2021?

There's a way you may be able to make more money while in quarantine. By filing old federal income tax returns, you may be able to claim tax refunds you didn't know that you are entitled to.

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14 Tips if You Haven’t Filed Taxes in Years

If you haven't been filing your federal income tax returns, it's a good thing you’re here! If you haven't been filing your tax returns for years, you could avoid a lot of trouble with the IRS by filing these old returns. This article will discuss why you should file your unfiled tax returns along with tips for the best way to file these old returns.

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Can I Settle My Tax Debt With The IRS For Less?

Few debts are as difficult to deal with as back taxes, so it’s sometimes surprising to learn that there are several methods available to reduce your tax liability with the IRS for less than what you owe. This article will explain what these options entail, how they work, and other information to help you decide if they’re options that you should consider when dealing with your tax bill.

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What Happens If I Don’t File Tax Returns?

What happens if you can’t file tax returns by the filing deadline? This article discusses how failure to file tax returns by the filing deadline can create a costly tax situation. It will also offer guidance for those who have already missed a critical deadline.

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What Happens If I Can’t Pay My Taxes In 2021?

Tax debt is a debt that keeps growing. The IRS has payment options available for those who are struggling. The quicker you resolve your issues with the IRS, the better off you will be. This article discusses the financial consequences of not paying taxes and tax payment options available to you if you can’t afford your tax bill right now.

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4 Ways To Get "Currently Not Collectible" Status From The IRS

If you're granted IRS currently not collectible status, the IRS will no longer try to collect taxes from you via bank account levies, wage garnishments, or seizures of your other property. If you can't afford to pay anything toward your IRS tax debt, you'll need to request CNC status. Otherwise, you could see your paycheck garnished or have funds in your bank account taken from you due to a bank account levy.

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Offer in Compromise vs. Bankruptcy: Which Is Better?

When deciding whether to file bankruptcy or try to do an offer in compromise to deal with your tax debt, there are many variables to consider. You’ll have to consider what you can afford and the probability of a case being accepted and being completed.

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How Partial Payment Installment Agreements Work

Owing a lot of income tax debt often feels inescapable, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can seem intimidating. Fortunately, the IRS has many options available to taxpayers who can’t pay all their taxes right away and will usually work with you to find a solution. This article takes a closer look at how the partial payment option works, how it compares to other solutions, and whether it may be a good choice for your situation.

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How to File Form 433-A in 2021

This six-page form provides the IRS with detailed information about your financial situation. This information helps the IRS verify whether you’re eligible for the relief you’re requesting and determine what you can afford to pay. This article will walk you through how to complete the most recent version of the form.

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IRS Wage Garnishment Procedures

If you owe the IRS unpaid taxes, they might collect on the debt by putting a garnish on your wages and collecting their money directly from your paycheck. Learn about the rules they must follow when garnishing wages, including how much of your income is exempt from garnishment and how much notice they are required to give you. Also, find out what you can do to stop a wage garnishment that's already in place.

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What Is Form 656 And How Do I File One?

If you owe back taxes to the IRS, the offer in compromise (OIC) program could help you settle your tax debt by paying less than what you owe. You’ll have to fill out Form 656 to make an offer in compromise to the IRS, which will include the details of your repayment offer. This article will expand on eligibility requirements for OICs, benefits for low-income filers, how to fill out a Form 656, and what you need to send to the IRS along with the form.

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Tax Lien: What is it and how do I stop one?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can file federal liens against taxpayers who owe back taxes. The IRS' ability to freeze a taxpayer’s property is one of the most powerful weapons it uses to force people to pay their delinquent income taxes. Here’s how federal tax liens can affect you, along with some pointers for how to get rid of them.

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How Does A Tax Lien Foreclosure Work?

Depending on where the property is located, past-due property taxes may lead to a tax lien foreclosure or a tax deed sale. The tax lien foreclosure process includes some additional protection for property owners. But, the bottom line is the same. If your property taxes are delinquent, you could lose your property to a tax lien foreclosure or tax deed sale—even if your mortgage has been paid in full.

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

To learn more, read why we started Upsolve in 2016, our reviews from past users, and our press coverage from places like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.


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