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Discharging Tax Debt Through Bankruptcy

Posted on | February 15, 2012 | 1 Comment

Filing for bankruptcy can be an effective way to get out of debt and get started rebuilding your financial life. While bankruptcy can provide quicker relief than other options such as debt settlement or credit counseling, some debts are ineligible for discharge. When dealing with tax debt, it can be difficult to get a discharge for it through bankruptcy. While it is possible, you’ll have to make sure that you meet certain standards. Otherwise, your tax debts may remain even after you file for bankruptcy.

Tax debts are subject to specific rules that must be met before they can be discharged in any kind of bankruptcy. The tax debt in question must be at least 36 months old in order to be eligible. When you need to discharge a tax debt, the return associated with that debt must have been filed at least 24 months ago as well. In addition to filing the return more than 24 months ago, you also have to make sure that the tax assessment is at least eight months old. The tax return that you file also has to be legitimate and cannot be fraudulent. You also cannot simply file for bankruptcy so that you can get out of paying taxes. This is considered tax evasion and is against the law.

If you want to qualify for bankruptcy discharge with your tax debt, you also have to prove that you have filed your last previous four tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service. Without having proof of filing those returns, you will not be eligible to have the debt discharged through the bankruptcy process.

While it is possible to get your tax debt discharged in bankruptcy, it is not very likely. In order to get part of your tax debt discharged, you have to prove that it is at least three years old. In most cases, the Internal Revenue Service will start contacting you almost immediately after your tax debt is not paid. The chances of you being able to hold out for more than three years without having anything done by the IRS are not good. The Internal Revenue Service has many ways that they can try to get you to pay your tax debt. For example, the IRS can file a tax lien on your property and make it difficult to sell any of your property without paying back the debt. In some cases, the IRS also has the right to seize your property such as your house, your vehicle, jewelry, securities and money from your bank account. If you do not pay the debt in the appropriate amount of time, the IRS will start trying to collect this money from you.

If you are having trouble repaying your tax debt, you may want to explore some other options besides trying to wait out the three year period for filing bankruptcy. For example, you could try to set up an installment agreement with the IRS or use an offer in compromise to settle your tax debt for less than you owe. The IRS will evaluate your proposal and decide if it is worth accepting.


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