Credit Card Debt

Massachusetts Bankruptcy Lawyers Anthony Bucacci and Robert Simonian (508)673-9500


Getting Rid of Credit Card Debt With Bankruptcy

With a few exceptions, your credit card debt will be discharged in bankruptcy.

Many people file for bankruptcy because they’ve racked up excessive credit card debt, often using the credit to pay for necessities, like car repairs or medical bills. Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy can wipe out credit card debt, with a few exceptions.

Credit Card Debt in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy will discharge (wipe out) most or all unsecured, nonpriority debt. Medical bills, personal loans, and most credit card debt are typical examples of unsecured, nonpriority debt you can wipe out in bankruptcy. Examples of nondischargeable priority debts that you’ll remain responsible for paying include child support and certain tax debts.

In return, you must give up your nonexempt property, or property that isn’t protected by a bankruptcy exemption. The Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee will sell your nonexempt property and distribute the proceeds to your creditors.

Exceptions to Discharging Credit Card Debt in Bankruptcy

In a few cases, you won’t be able to wipe out your credit card debt by filing for Chapter 7.

You Can’t Get Rid of Credit Card Debt Incurred Due to Fraud

Sometimes the creditor can challenge the discharge of your credit card debt. If successful, the court will not discharge the debt, and you’ll remain responsible for paying for it after your case ends. Here are a few common situations:

  • You made a false statement on your credit card application to deceive the creditor that was “material” to the credit card issuer’s decision to extend credit to you. For example, you grossly inflated your income.
  • You charged more than $725 to any single creditor for luxury goods or services within 90 days of your bankruptcy filing. In this situation, the law presumes that your intent was fraudulent.
  • You got a cash advance from a single creditor totaling more than $1,000 within 70 days of your bankruptcy filing.

The amounts are valid for three years as of April 1, 2019. (11 U.S.C. § 523(a)(2)(C)(i)(l).) Learn why it’s not a good idea to use credit cards before filing for bankruptcy and about other types of bankruptcy fraud.

You Can’t Keep the Property When the Credit Card Debt Is Secured

In rare situations, the credit card lender may take a security interest in some of your property in the credit card agreement. Jewelry, electronics, mattresses, furniture, and large appliances often are collateral securing the purchase—check your contract and receipt. If the debt isn’t unsecured, you’ll be able to wipe out the debt, but the creditor will be entitled to the property securing the obligation. Learn more about secured property.

Credit Card Debt in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you repay your creditors in full or in part through a repayment plan that lasts three to five years. The plan usually provides for payment of only a portion of your unsecured, nonpriority debt, like credit card debt.

How much you’ll pay will depend on the amount of your disposable income and the value of your nonexempt property (you keep all of your property in Chapter 13, but you must pay for the nonexempt portion). You’ll pay the larger of the two amounts throughout your plan. Learn about calculating the repayment plan payment.

Most Chapter 13 filers pay only a small percentage of their credit card and other unsecured debts, and, at the end of the repayment period, the remaining credit card balance gets discharged.

Can I File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy on Credit Cards Only?

In Chapter 7, you must include all of your debt in your bankruptcy case. But, you can voluntarily repay creditors after the bankruptcy is over if you choose to do so. It would be very unusual to repay a credit card debt.

Can the Credit Card Companies Sue Me After I File for Bankruptcy?

No. Once you file for bankruptcy protection, bankruptcy’s automatic stay prohibits most creditors from continuing collection efforts against you. The stay extends to credit card companies and prohibits them from suing you, sending you collection letters, calling you, or engaging in other collection activities. Learn more about bankruptcy’s automatic stay.

Source : alllaw.com


Debt is Threatening Retirement Dreams

Many Americans are bringing more than just their bucket lists with them into retirement. According to a recent analysis by MagnifyMoney, a growing number of Americans are carrying burdensome debt into their 50s and beyond.

The biennial MRRC study surveys more than 20,000 Americans 50 and older on a range of financial topics. MagnifyMoney found the latest results revealed a number of debt trends that threaten to undermine the retirement goals of many older Americans.

Debt On the Rise

Both the percentage of older Americans carrying debt and the amount of debt they’re carrying are on the rise. As recently as 1998, roughly 37 percent of Americans age 56 to 61 carried debt, with an average debt load of $3,634 in 2012 dollars, according to MRRC research. By comparison, today, 42 percent of Americans that age carry debt and with an average debt load of $17, 623.00.

The trend isn’t explained away by higher mortgage costs, either.

According to MagnifyMoney’s analysis, almost one-third (32 percent) of older Americans carry non-mortgage debt on a month-to-month basis, with an average of $12,490. Of that, $4,786.00, on average, is credit card debt, represents its own significant challenge for Americans as they near retirement.

Credit Card Debt Weighs Heavily

Some 40 percent of older Americans have at least $5,000 in credit card debt,; 22 percent owe more than $10,000 — an amount exceeding what most of them have in their checking accounts.

Saving For Retirement

When you are caught in the trap of using your paycheck to pay credit card or debt minimum payment and they find yourself using the available credit to buy essentials like food, gas and medicine you start to get on an endless treadmill and accumulate no saving for your retirement. Many American stop contributing to their 401(K) plans and retirement plans so they can have extra money in their pay check and make minimum payments on debts that never seem to go down.

Consider Filing for Bankruptcy

If you are approaching retirement within 15 to 20 years and find yourself on the endless treadmill of paying minimum payments and not saving for your retirement you may want to consider filing bankruptcy. You can get a fresh financial start in life, get you feet on the ground and your head above water. Call us today for a free, confidential, no obligation bankruptcy consultation today.

How to Handle Bankruptcy and Divorce at the Same Time

Divorce and bankruptcy are among the most stressful and emotionally fraught experiences anyone can endure, and dealing with both at the same time can seem overwhelming.

If you’re facing that prospect, it may be hard to take comfort in assurances about new beginnings (however true they are), but maybe it will help to know others have made it through the ordeal, and to learn some proven strategies for making the processes go as smoothly as possible.

Is It Wise to File for Bankruptcy Before Getting Divorced?

Before putting divorce and bankruptcy into motion, you should understand that it’s unlikely the two proceedings can truly take place simultaneously. You can file legal motions at the same time, but in most jurisdictions one case will take precedence over the other. If both cases are pending simultaneously, bankruptcy is typically suspended until the divorce court apportions marital debts and assets to each party.

Juggling the two legal actions will only complicate your situation, so for simplicity’s sake, you may want to consider filing for divorce before tackling bankruptcy. Certain circumstances, however, can make it more desirable to file bankruptcy first, and then address divorce.

Deciding the best order in which to handle divorce and bankruptcy will depend on your financial situation and the laws that apply in the jurisdiction where you live. You should consult legal counsel before starting either process to determine which makes the most sense for you. In a nutshell, here are the advantages to handling divorce before bankruptcy, and vice-versa.

When Does It Make Sense to File for Bankruptcy Before Divorce?

A main advantage to filing bankruptcy before divorce is the potential for cancelling joint marital debts that would otherwise have to be divided up as part of divorce proceedings, and then tackled separately in each spouse’s bankruptcy. A joint bankruptcy filing requires cooperation between the spouses, but it can significantly streamline the divorce process, reducing legal fees and time commitment for both parties.

In many states, a couple filing for bankruptcy can keep a larger portion of their assets than they would when filing for bankruptcy individually, after a divorce.
When Does It Make Sense to File for Divorce Before Bankruptcy?

The main case for filing for divorce before bankruptcy has to do with meeting the qualifications in your state for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In contrast with Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which cancels certain types of debt but requires negotiating with creditors to structure a yearslong repayment plan, Chapter 7 cancels qualifying debts altogether. To meet the qualifications for Chapter 7, your income must fall below than that of the median for your state. In households where one spouse earns most or all of the income, completing a divorce before filing for bankruptcy can enable both parties to qualify for individual Chapter 7 bankruptcies.

What Happens to Your Credit After Divorce?

Whether you pursue divorce or bankruptcy first, it’s important to know going in that it may not be possible for either process to completely disentangle your finances from your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s.

For example, Chapter 13 plans on marital debt may leave both parties legally responsible for repayments. There are also categories of debt that bankruptcy cannot discharge (student loans, for example), and if you or your spouse cosigned on such a loan, you may be equally responsible for seeing to it that those debts are paid, even after divorce and bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy has severe, long-lasting negative consequences for individuals’ credit scores and eligibility for loans or credit cards. While divorce doesn’t directly affect individuals’ credit, the aftermath of divorce can lead to circumstances that bring down credit scores as well. Those situations—and the long road to recovery from the credit impact of bankruptcy—will only be complicated if either party withholds payments or otherwise uses joint debt to spite the other party.

Getting through bankruptcy and divorce is never easy, but with a sound strategy and some good faith on the part of both spouses, it’s possible to move on from them and start regaining a solid financial footing within a few years.

Things to consider about Bankruptcy and Divorce

Should you file before or after divorce? 

This is a question many divorcing couples ask and the answer depends upon what joint assets and debts you have and what assets you intend to keep after the divorce. For most couples, this question is answered by whether or not you own a home, have equity in it, and one of you intends to keep it and who is residing in the home. In most cases, it is advisable to file bankruptcy jointly before the divorce. You should always consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney when you first consider divorcing. Most often it is better to jointly resolve your debt issues before the divorce as it is one major component of divorce that can be quickly resolved and leave one less issue to argue over.

It is always best if both spouses can work together before the divorce is filed. It is important to rationally discuss the financial issues and come to a joint decision when possible. When communication breaks down and the parties cannot discuss matters together it often hurts both parties. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer should be able to discuss this with both spouses and make a recommendation that is in both parties interests.

Bankruptcy, child support and alimony.

Generally speaking, as a matter of public policy, both child support and alimony are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. However, by filing Chapter 13, a spouse obligated to pay support can pay the past due support in their chapter 13 bankruptcy plan and pay them over three or five years. Also, having the other debts discharged in bankruptcy and having one lower monthly payment can often make support payments more manageable.

Should you file bankruptcy jointly or individually?

The answer to this question depends mostly upon the nature of your relationship. For most divorcing couples, it is best to file jointly if at all possible; however, not every couple going through a divorce has the ability to work together on a joint filing.

Filing bankruptcy jointly means doubling your bankruptcy exemptions, increasing the amount of property and assets that can be protected in bankruptcy and from your creditors. If you own a home and one of you intends to retain it after the divorce, you can apply for the homestead exemption and protect the equity from your creditors.

If one of you files bankruptcy prior to divorcing and the other does not, the non-filer will be responsible for all joint debt that is discharged as far as their creditors are concerned. This often causes a problem for the spouse who did not file for bankruptcy and can become an issue in the divorce. The spouse who did not file will be responsible for the formerly joint debt.

Again, there are some instances where filing individually can be beneficial and you should always consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in the early stages of the divorce. Your divorce attorneys should work together with your bankruptcy attorney to achieve the best result.

The division of assets in a divorce and the effects on bankruptcy.

If you file bankruptcy after your divorce, the division of assets in your divorce property settlement agreement will control what assets you must exempt from your bankruptcy estate. Assets that you are to receive in the future may or may not be exempt. All of your assets provided for in the property settlement agreement must be disclosed in your bankruptcy petition. Also alimony and child support will count as income for the person receiving it and will count as an expense for the person paying it.

The Three Biggest Bankruptcy Fears

Maybe you’ve been thinking about it. You know that your life might just get better if you do it. But, like most people, you’re downright scared of filing bankruptcy.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Bankruptcy doesn’t have to be a last resort, but it is a serious step, and it does carry consequences.

That said, most of the dire predictions people hear (on the Internet and elsewhere) about the “tragedy” of filing bankruptcy, or the inescapable complications they’ll face, just do not materialize. Let’s explore why. . . .

Never Qualifying for a Mortgage (or a Car Loan or a Credit Card) Again

Of course, you will be able to buy a house or a car or get a credit card again, and it will happen much sooner than you would probably think. Most people believe that they can’t get any credit for seven or 10 years, based on the length of time a bankruptcy will appear on their credit bureau report. In reality, you’ll be able to get credit very soon after your case is concluded and your debts are discharged.

How can that be? After all, didn’t you just wipe out a bunch of credit balances? Who would want to take a chance on you? As it turns out, plenty of lenders will. There is no law that would prevent a creditor from extending credit to you. In fact, there are creditors who market to people who recently completed bankruptcy cases. These creditors know that your future bankruptcy options are limited for 4 years, so their chances of losing money on you through bankruptcy are very, very small. Plus, these lenders can use your recent financial circumstances to justify charging you a higher interest rate. Add to that the fact that you’ve just freed up resources by getting rid of debt and suddenly you’re a person they want to extend credit to.

Companies offer secured and unsecured credit cards to recent bankruptcy filers. Many debtors also report that local car dealerships send them letters offering to help them re-establish credit with new and used car deals. In fact, many borrowers can qualify for an FHA or VA loan just one year after a Chapter 13 bankruptcy or two years after a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

No doubt you’ll probably pay more for your credit immediately after a bankruptcy, but within about two years or so, with a clean record and good payment history, your credit score could rise to a very respectable level that will allow you to obtain good, if not excellent credit rates very quickly.

I Will Lose All My Property

In less than 10% of personal bankruptcy cases will individual debtors be required to turn over any property or assets to the bankruptcy trustee. For most filers, their personal property and the equity in their real estate will be exempt and protected. Each state either has its own exemption scheme or makes use of the scheme included in the federal bankruptcy laws. For the most part, these exemptions will be generous enough to cover your property.  In Massachusetts you have a choice of either federal or state exemptions and the exemptions are quite generous.

My Friends, Family or Coworkers Will Find Out I Filed For Bankruptcy!

What our friends and family think of us is a powerful motivator. The fear that our bankruptcy filing will become public knowledge can be paralyzing and overwhelming. For many, the stress of dealing with obnoxious bill collectors pales in comparison to the possibility that someone we know will find out about our bankruptcy case and that you have money troubles.

Bankruptcy cases are public court records, but generally, the information on an individual bankruptcy case is not published unless it is newsworthy. The filer’s creditors are notified by mail, along with certain government agencies, but the days of publishing a bankrupt’s name in a list in the legal notices of the local newspaper are long gone in Massachusetts. The chances of your acquaintances finding out are very low unless you tell them yourself or they go to the Massachusetts Bankruptcy Court’s clerk’s office to research your name.

It may ease your mind a little bit to know that about one in 10 adults will file bankruptcy sometime over the course of their lives. It is a lot more common than you believe. So, next time you’re in church or at a family gathering, think about how there’s a good chance someone sitting near you has or will file bankruptcy. You’re not alone at all.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy vs. Debt Consolidation

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy vs. Debt Consolidation. When is Bankruptcy Better than Debt Consolidation

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the situations in which bankruptcy may be the best option as opposed to debt consolidation.

When is Bankruptcy Better than Debt Consolidation?

Debt consolidation doesn’t work for everyone and is usually very situation specific. If someone doesn’t have enough income to pay the loan payments in addition to their living expenses, then even if they qualify for a loan they’ll likely end up in the same situation in a short period of time afterwards. Many people need to get a fresh start and put the financial distress behind them. This can be achieved quickly through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which wipes all debts except a few non-dischargeable debts like taxes, child support or student loans. Debt consolidation is essentially getting a new larger loan to clear up all existing debt. This now requires you to make a larger payment to one lender. If you find yourself using your paycheck to pay the loan payment and now relying on the credit cards for living expenses such as gas and food you really did not solve the problem. In fact, you may make the problem worse by ending up with a lot more debt than when you started. A fresh start can also be achieved in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy after completion of a repayment plan that pays a smaller portion of un-secured debts and discharges most of the rest. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy you no longer have interest and late fees so it really begins on a certain date and ends on a certain date.

If creditors are suing or threatening to sue a debtor to obtain a court judgment and begin garnishing wages or bank account funds, a debt consolidation loan will do nothing to stop those lawsuits or collection efforts until the loan goes through and those debts are paid. That can take several weeks or more. Depending on where things are in the process, the debtor may not have time to secure a consolidation loan before the judgment is entered or the garnishing begins. Often when you are at the point where you are being sued by your creditors your credit is not good enough to get a loan large enough to pay the creditors. However, a bankruptcy’s automatic stay requires all creditors to immediately stop collection efforts and court actions until the stay is lifted, the bankruptcy is discharged.

Bankruptcy has many other advantages. These options should be discussed with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer and debt management attorney before deciding on the proper course of action. Your attorney’s experience and familiarity with debt issues can save you a great deal of money, resources and valuable time.

In Massachusetts bankruptcy attorneys Robert Simonian and Anthony Bucacci can assist in identifying a workable and advantageous solution to your debt issues and help you take action towards the right resolution.

Debt Consolidation vs. Debt Management Programs

It is easy to confuse a debt consolidation loan with a debt management program. A debt management program does not eliminate your many debts. Instead, your single payment is divided among your creditors by the debt management agency, who also takes a portion of your payment. Some programs are ok, especially non-profit and government agency sponsored programs, but many private sector programs are nothing more than scams in which the management firm is the only one who gets paid and debtors often end up in worse shape than before. It is very important to consider what the proposed monthly payment is and if you can actually afford that amount. Be very careful of a company that does not ask that first because they probably do not have your best interest in mind. Many debt management companies are a little deceitful by leading you to believe they are somehow affiliated with a government agency. Often this is not true and people blindly send money to the company only to find out they are doing little or nothing for them except taking your money. Also a lot of debt settlement companies use high pressure sales tactics and do not tell you about the tax consequences of debt settlement and you will end up owing the IRS for the forgiven debts. In bankruptcy there are no tax consequences and you truly get a fresh start. With debt management you may end up not saving any money at all between their fees, the accumulating interest and the tax consequences. If you cannot meet with a person face to face it is probably not a good idea to do business with them.

When is it Time to File Personal Bankruptcy?

Most people don’t like the idea of filing for bankruptcy, even when debt issues are growing and growing, causing them to lose sleep, affecting their relationships with others and threatening their mental and physical wellbeing. It is common for people in debt to think they just aren’t trying hard enough or that if they can just get that better job or get a particular debt paid off they’ll be in better shape. Meanwhile, past due balances and high interest rates, penalties and fees continue to grow and grow and cause the problem to get worse and worse.

It’s often difficult for people to see that it’s time to file for bankruptcy. People in debt may think of filing bankruptcy as giving up (which is simply not true) or think it’s not bad enough to consider bankruptcy just yet. Often they may be afraid of losing important assets like their home or car which is almost always not true. Often people take advice from family and friends and search the internet for answers and get more and more confused. However, when bankruptcy is in order it’s important to get it done before the situation gets worse. Below is a list of indicators that strongly suggest that bankruptcy should be considered as an option and a consultation with a Massachusetts bankruptcy lawyer may be beneficial.

Indicators that it may be time to file for personal bankruptcy

Financial problems are like an illness or a disease. The more symptoms a debtor suffers the greater likelihood that filing for bankruptcy is in order. It is really no different than going to a doctor when your symptoms start becoming more and more serious. Most individuals and families who can benefit from filing for bankruptcy experience several of the following:

  • The financial hardship keeps getting worse and worse — interest rates and penalty fees and other factors exceed the payments you make and cause your debt load to increase in month rather than decrease
  • Can’t afford payments that will pay off debt within three years (36 months) — if payments are too low, interest rates and penalty fees can keep a debt going on forever so a debtor can’t get out from under it; debtors should be sure to include future interest when calculating how much it will take to pay a debt off in three years
  • Borrowing to make debt payments — this is like trying to put out a fire by throwing gasoline on it, yet many debtors resort to this just to get aggressive creditors to go away even if it’s just temporarily
  • Can’t afford to pay minimum payments on all credit cards, loans and other debts — sometimes it’s not the size of any one debt or the size of the required payment for a single debt but rather the impact of many debts piled together; failure of a debtor to make minimum payments on all his/her debts will cause penalty fees and interest to accrue until the debt load is out of control. Paying on some debts while ignoring others is a strong sign that bankruptcy might be an option
  • Paying debts with retirement funds — the closer a person is to retirement the worse of an idea this is, yet seniors, who can least afford to jeopardize their retirement income, are those most likely to do so to avoid bankruptcy because of the stigma this generation traditionally puts on bankruptcy. Retirement money is protected in bankruptcy for a good reason which is that you will need it someday. Using retirement funds usually on puts a Band-Aid on the situation and only provides temporary relief. The stigma of bankruptcy is all but gone. No one will really know that you filed unless you tell them
  • Others will suffer if situation continues — the more dependants a debtor must provide for, the less they can afford to make payments to credit cards and other unsecured debts rather than save money for emergencies or pay for health insurance; if any single symptom can indicate a need for bankruptcy, this one is it, yet trying to continue making those payments could result in foreclosure or eviction and everyone ends up without a home. When you feel as if you are one financial problem away from disaster you should consider a free consultation with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer
  • Creditor collection calls threaten employment — if a creditor calls to garnish wages for a judgment and upsets your employer, the debtor may be in jeopardy of losing his/her job, which will make it impossible to keep up with any of their debts. It is common for employers to get nervous about your employment at their company if you start receiving collection calls at work. Your employer could look to the person with financial trouble if money or property is missing
  • Other options are not available, practical or helpful — insufficient income, poor credit scores and other factors put options like debt settlement programs, consolidation loans, negotiating with creditors, loan modification, lifestyle changes, or gifts from relatives out of reach, but they should be considered before filing for bankruptcy. People in debt can only cut back so much. When a person in debt starts buying less food and having insufficient insurance on their vehicles to save money it is an indicator that bankruptcy may be an option.
  • Upside down on their home with a second mortgage and/or equity line of credit — many debts secured by real property will survive a foreclosure and the debtor will still owe any remaining balance after the property is sold and proceeds subtracted from the balance; bankruptcy, however, can completely discharge these debts

The Next Step Is To Call A Bankruptcy Attorney For A Free

Anyone who suffers any of the above symptoms, or a combination of 2 or more, should strongly consider filing for bankruptcy. The next step is to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can help the debtor confirm that bankruptcy is the best solution. If it is, the attorney will file the case in court and notify creditors, which will put a stop to all collection efforts until the bankruptcy process is complete or the bankruptcy court lifts the stay.

In Massachusetts, bankruptcy and debt solutions attorneys Robert Simonian and Anthony Bucacci can assist in identifying the best options and solutions for your situation and put a plan into action that will resolve your debt issues and get you back on your feet. Call our office at 508-673-9500 to schedule a free consultation today or visit us at www.massbklaw.com

Income Tax Debt & Bankruptcy

When you file for bankruptcy, you may be able to wipe out and discharge income tax debts depending on how old the tax debt is. Bankruptcy law has specific rules for how old an income tax debt must be in order for it to be discharged along with a few additional requirements.

Timing: Tax Return Was Due At Least Three Years Ago

The federal income tax debt that you are seeking to discharge must have become due, including all extensions, at least three years before the day you file for bankruptcy.

Example: You owe taxes on your 2015 and 2016 tax returns. Your 2015 tax return was due on April 15, 2016. To meet the three-year requirement for your 2015 taxes you must file for bankruptcy on or after April 15, 2019. Your 2016 tax return was due on April 15, 2017, but you requested an extension that expired on October 15, 2017. To meet the three year requirement for your 2016 taxes you must file for bankruptcy on or after October 15, 2020. Generally speaking it is always 3 years from when the tax became DUE not 3 years from the tax year filed.

Timing: Tax Return Was Filed At Least Two Years Ago

In order to discharge your federal income tax debt, you must have actually filed the tax return in which the debt was related to at least two years prior to the filing of bankruptcy. Tax debts related to unfiled tax returns are not dischargeable. You must file the return and although it satisfies the 3 year rule it has to have been filed for at least 2 years.

Timing: Tax Assessment Occurred At Least 240 Days Ago

The IRS must have recorded your liability and assessed it to you for the tax debt at least 240 days prior to the filing of your bankruptcy. This is known as a “tax assessment.” Often, the date you file your tax return is when your related tax debt is assessed. However, on occasion, the IRS can assess additional taxes later based on an audit. When this happens, you must wait 240 days from the assessment to discharge the additional taxes in bankruptcy. It is very important to know when the tax was actually assessed to you by the IRS and wait at least 240 days to file for bankruptcy.

No Fraud or Willful Evasion Requirement

If you committed fraud when filing your income tax returns you can not discharge the debt in bankruptcy. If you willfully evaded paying taxes, your tax debt will not be eligible for discharge in bankruptcy. You would have options to repayment in a chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Penalties, Interest and Tax Liens

If an income tax debt meets the rules and requirements discussed above, interest charges and penalties on that underlying tax debt will be discharged as well. If the IRS has recorded a tax lien against your property before you file for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court cannot set aside your tax lien. After the bankruptcy, if the tax lien has not been paid off, the IRS lien will remain. Chapter 13 bankruptcy does offer you options with tax liens. You should consult a qualified and experienced bankruptcy attorney for legal advice.

Chapter 13 and Non-Dischargeable Income Tax Debt

If your tax debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy, filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy may still help you as it can make the process of paying back your debt easier. In a Chapter 13 plan you will need to pay your non-dischargeable tax debt over a 3 to 5 year period. The plan might offer better terms than an IRS installment plan and is usually an amount that is more comfortable than what the IRS proposes. It is important to remember that the automatic stay imposed by the bankruptcy court will prevent collection activity while you are in bankruptcy and provide you a lot of relief.

Social Media and Filing Bankruptcy in Massachusetts

Social Media And Filing Bankruptcy in Massachusetts

Many people share personal details of their lives on social media.  Social media and bankruptcy in Massachusetts may have consequences.  Post like vacations they take, places they shop, purchases they make, and even what they wear. This kind of sharing can sometimes have legal consequences. One example would be an angry post about a soon to be ex spouse could cause problems in a pending divorce.  Also, posts that exaggerate your financial situation could cause you problems in bankruptcy.  It is never wise to post information that exaggerates your lifestyle before, during or after filing bankruptcy.  Viewers of your post and creditors could misinterpret it and use it against you.  One example shows just how problematic things can be when you are not careful on social media.

Bankruptcy Filing and Social Media Problems

In 2015, the musician 50 Cent filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. During his bankruptcy he posted several photographs with a lot of money. He displayed a stack of money in his freezer.  50 Cent also posted a photograph of himself surrounded by piles of cash on a bed.  He claimed the bills were props, such as those used in music videos.  The creditors and the bankruptcy judge were not impressed and not amused by those pictures.

According to the New York Times, 50 Cent stated that the postings were important to maintaining his image and for promotion of his music. This made it difficult to determine whether he was hiding assets or money.  This made it difficult to see if he was telling the truth.   His creditors now asked to revalue his assets.  The bankruptcy judge asked him to reappear in court.

Fortunately he received a large settlement from a lawsuit and was able to pay off his creditors in a short period of time.  As you can see, it can be dangerous to post on social media if you are going through bankruptcy.

Be Careful What You Post and Share

Creditors do not know anything about you. People who do not know you can easily misinterpret your social media posts. Pictures of a business trip could be seen or interpreted as a vacation when posted on social media.   Visiting a relative out of state for an emergency can look like a vacation.  Eating at a fancy restaurant for a family event could look extravagant.  Be careful of what you post on social media before and after filing bankruptcy.

If you are considering filing bankruptcy in Massachusetts you should consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.  It is not wise to take advice from friends and family.  Also, trying to sort through the information on the internet could get you in trouble.  A lot of the information on the internet about bankruptcy is very general and can easily be misinterpreted.  It is always advisable to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.  Call us anytime to discuss your options.  You can also visit our website to schedule an appointment.  The consultation is always free.

 

Rebuilding Your Credit After Bankruptcy

REBUILDING YOUR CREDIT AFTER BANKRUPTCY

Rebuilding Your Credit After BankruptcyThe most frequently ask question from our clients is “rebuilding my credit after bankruptcy?”

Chances are, that if you have made the decision to file a bankruptcy, you are at a point where some or all of your debts are behind, you receive collection notices or even law suits. At that point you probably have been making ends meet somehow without using your cards.

When you can’t obtain new credit with high debts you have to do something.  This will prevent a creditor from granting you a new card or a loan unless you take action.  Rebuilding your credit becomes necessary in order to move forward in life.

You have now made the decision to obtain debt relief by hiring an attorney to file a bankruptcy.  After you can begin rebuilding your credit with a bankruptcy discharge in hand.

Your attorney takes you through the process of filing bankruptcy and then, afterwards, the weight of those collection letters, collection call and law suits is gone.

After bankruptcy, there are many avenues to obtain new credit. First and foremost, when a bankruptcy is filed the person that filed can decide to keep a car with automobile loan or a house and a mortgage.  Secondly, reaffirmation of those debts allows a bankruptcy filer to get on track immediately. Thirdly, the banks will record your mortgage payments to the credit bureaus. Once the attorney discusses reaffirmation of debts advice can be given accordingly.  Attorneys will explain the process.

What if you do not have a car loan or mortgage to reestablish yourself?

Without any debt many credit card companies are willing to grant you a fresh start. Credit card companies offer decent credit limits.  Favorable credit reporting usually increases credit limits and credit offers.  Offers of new credit from credit card companies listed in the bankruptcy often surprise clients and then clients receive new credit.

Open a secured credit card.  As a result, this will help to improve your credit. Deposit money in a bank account that issues you a secured card based upon the amount of your deposit. Lenders report timely payments and payment history to the credit bureaus.

In a short amount of time credit scores will improve.  Lenders and credit card companies will extend credit.

It is not unusual for clients to obtain automobile loan months after bankruptcy.  A mortgage is the most difficult type of credit to obtain after bankruptcy.  Usually one to two years after a bankruptcy you can obtain a mortgage.

These are some techniques to obtain the fresh start you deserve and there are many resources available.

Mortgage Relief and Foreclosure Prevention

There will be a great need for mortgage relief and foreclosure prevention in Massachusetts and the entire country.  The CFPB stated today “we are at really an unusual point in history”.  Nobody has ever before seen this many mortgages in forbearance at one time that are expected to exit forbearance all at one time.”

This may be the calm before the storm. If mortgage companies don’t get it right when all these forbearance periods end.

With stimulus money and no federal student loan payments, people have been able to firm up their finances. People are paying off car loans, clearing off credit card debts or other old debt. Many are actually establishing a savings account for the first time in a long while.

What Mortgage Relief and Foreclosure Prevention is Expected

The CFPB hopes to have a plan to prevent a sharp rise in foreclosures this fall.  The present proposal would:

  • Establish a pre-foreclosure review period once forbearance ends
  • Delay the start of any Covid-related foreclosure to 2022
  • Provide mortgage servicers with streamlined loan modification options
  • Revise mortgage servicer communication rules to keep borrowers better informed.

Here is what to know.

The deadline for borrowers affected by Covid-19 to request or extend a forbearance plan is June 30.  This is also the end of a foreclosure moratorium on federally backed mortgages.  For borrowers who are behind in mortgage payments now, it’s imperative to act before June 30 to ask for a 180 day forbearance, and if needed, a second 180 day forbearance.  This will get you a year.  If that isn’t done, then the new CFPB rules would at least block servicers from filing a foreclosure lawsuit until after December 31, 2021.

The new rules if they are approved, will apply to all mortgages, not just those that are federally backed.

Certain fees such as late fees and stop payment fees would be waived.  If a loan modification were to include any catch up payments, servicers will not be allowed to charge extra fees or interest on those payments.  The new rules would be in effect until August 31, 2022 but may not apply to smaller lenders with less than 5,000 loans.

If you have the threat of a foreclosure, you can call us anytime or visit our website for more information.