Can You Discharge Your Tax Debt Through Bancruptcy?

As with any tax question, the answer is “it depends”.  The short answer is “maybe”.  You should consult your legal council before going down this path, but here is a brief overview of the criteria for getting your incometax liability discharged.Income tax debts may be eligible for discharge under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 7 provides for full discharge of allowable debts. Chapter 13 provides a payment plan to repay some debts, with the remainder of debts discharged. Under the new bankruptcy laws, tax debts are treated the same way in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 petitions. Not all tax debts are capable of being discharged in bankruptcy. The bankruptcy petitioner must have tax debts that meet five criteria for discharge.

Tax debts are associated with a particular tax return and tax year. The bankruptcy law lays out specific criteria for how old a tax debt should be. If the income tax debt meets all five of these rules, then the tax debt is dischargeable in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy petitions.

  1. The due date for filing a tax return is at least three years ago.
  2. The tax return was filed at least two years ago.
  3. The tax assessment is at least 240 days old.
  4. The tax return was not fraudulent.
  5. The taxpayer is not guilty of tax evasion.

Again, it is imperative to consult with a bankruptcy attorney regarding your specific situation.  If you have any questions regarding how to manage or mitigate your income tax liability, please do not hesitate to contact us.


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