Two Rare Exceptions When The Banruptcy Trustee Can Take Your Social Security Disabilty Payments

Posted by on Aug 25, 2015 in Uncategorized Comments Off on Two Rare Exceptions When The Banruptcy Trustee Can Take Your Social Security Disabilty Payments

Typically when you file bankruptcy, your income and savings becomes part of your bankruptcy estate. The trustee will take any non-exempt funds and use them to pay off your creditors. Most of the time, social security disability income is protected from this type of trustee action by both bankruptcy laws and the Social Security Act. However, there are two times when the trustee can take that money. Here’s more info about these exceptions. Lump Sum Payments The automatic exemptions provided by bankruptcy laws and Social Security typically only apply to the monthly payments you receive going forward. If you receive a lump sum payment from the Social Security Administration for past benefits owed to you, you may be required to turn part of that money over to the bankruptcy court. Whether or not you have to depend on a few factors: When you receive the money The amount you receive The bankruptcy court in your area The exemption laws in your state Where you live will have the biggest impact on whether you’ll be made to turn over some of the money from your lump sum payment. Many bankruptcy courts consider any type of SSDI income to be untouchable. In other courts, however, the bankruptcy trustee will calculate the amount of money required to pay your basic needs (housing, food, and support) and take anything left over. For instance, if you receive a $20,000 lump sum from the Social Security Administration and the trustee calculates your living expenses to be $15,000, he or she will require you to hand over the remaining $5,000 to pay your creditors. Sometimes you can use the exemptions available in your state to protect that income. For instance, Maryland has a $6,000 wildcard exemption that can be used to protect cash or property from being seized by the trustee. You could use that exemption to cover the remaining $5,000 in the above example. When you receive the money will also impact its exemption status. Money you receive from the Social Security Administration after you file bankruptcy is typically protected. However, lump sum payments received prior to filing may not be. Again, this depends on where you live. For example, in a 2008 court case, the Minnesota bankruptcy court ruled that the person could not use the federal bankruptcy exemptions to protect the $17,000 he had received prior to filing a petition and still retained. According the judge’s interpretation, the law only protected future money received from the SSA. The laws can get complex when dealing with lump sum social security disability payments, so it’s essential that you work with a bankruptcy attorney to find ways to protect your benefits. Comingled Funds Another way the bankruptcy trustee can come after your social security disability payments is if you comingle the funds with other non-protected money. If you deposit your SSD checks into the same account as your regular paychecks, for example, then the trustee may make the argument that you can’t determine which money in your bank account came from the Social Security Administration and which came from your place of employment. This is particularly true if you don’t keep good records. As with lump sum payments, you can protect comingled funds using bankruptcy exemptions. If you’ve been saving the money and haven’t spent any...

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Things To Avoid Before Filing A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Posted by on Aug 18, 2015 in Uncategorized Comments Off on Things To Avoid Before Filing A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Coming to the realization that you need to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy usually doesn’t happen suddenly. Typically, people in financial distress severe enough to contemplate bankruptcy spend many sleepless nights worrying about how to pay their bills and they avoid answering phone calls because they may be from creditors. During this time, they may unknowingly make mistakes that could cause problems when they do file for bankruptcy. If you are beginning to realize that a bankruptcy filing is on the horizon, you’ll need to avoid doing the following things. Do not pay certain creditors and not others When you’re strapped for cash, it’s often difficult to juggle bills so all your creditors are paid. Often, people in this situation find themselves paying certain creditors and not others. Perhaps they are trying to keep their vehicle from being repossessed so they avoid paying a credit card bill, or they owe a family member money and want to stay on good terms with him or her so they repay them and ignore their other creditors. You’ll want to avoid favoritism because choosing one creditor over others is considered fraudulent activity in bankruptcy court. Do not transfer funds In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, all of your assets will be assessed and some will be taken from you to pay your debt. If you transfer funds before you file for bankruptcy, the trustee assigned to your case may file what is called an adversary complaint for constructive fraud. For example, if you have a savings account and you try to protect it by transferring the money to a relative to hold on to it for you, this can be considered a fraudulent activity. Do not sell real estate property Selling real estate property before a bankruptcy filing can be considered fraudulent, especially if the money from the sale was not used to repay debt. It’s important to understand that your bankruptcy trustee will look over all of your financial documents and records, including the time leading up to your financial situation at the time of filing. This means that he or she will see your financial history and will be able to tell if you sold property and what you did with the money if you did. An example is if you sell property and use the money to buy things like new furniture, clothing, or other things you know will be exempt from the bankruptcy. This would also be considered fraudulent activity. Do not go on spending sprees with your credit cards Creditors in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy are able to file adversary complaints if they believe you went on spending sprees with their credit cards before you file for bankruptcy. This type of complaint would actually be a lawsuit filed against you within your bankruptcy case. If this happens, you will receive a summons and be required to submit an answer within a specified number of days according to the laws of your state. If you do not file an answer, the court will award the plaintiff a default judgement, which could mean you’d be obligated to repay that debt and it will not be discharged as part of your bankruptcy case. An example of this type of fraudulent activity would be if you were to take your family on...

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How Can You Settle Your Tax Debt After Closing A Business?

Posted by on Aug 12, 2015 in Uncategorized Comments Off on How Can You Settle Your Tax Debt After Closing A Business?

If you’ve recently made the decision to close your small business due to inadequate cash flow or low profit, you may be feeling equal parts dismay and relief. However, depending upon how quickly you began the closing process when you realized your business was unsustainable, you may not have enough excess cash to pay even the final bills — including your business’s income and payroll taxes for the last few months. What should you do if you can’t afford your business’s tax bill? Will your personal wages be garnished when you begin working at a job? Read on to learn more about how post-closing business taxes are handled. Will you be personally liable for your business’s tax debt? If your business was incorporated as a company or limited liability company (LLC), one of the primary benefits you likely received from this arrangement was the ability to avoid personal liability for legal claims relating to your business. If a customer were to slip and fall in your business, he or she could sue the LLC and recover any costs from your business’s insurance policy; but the customer could not sue you personally. Taxes are handled a bit differently, and simply because your business structure is designed to limit liability doesn’t mean you won’t personally be on the hook for unpaid payroll or business income taxes. The federal government is clear that any unpaid (or collected but undeposited) payroll taxes can subject the responsible person to up to a 10-year IRS lien and other types of garnishment. This is true even for business officers (like CEOs), not only small business owners. If you continue to fail to pay these taxes, the federal government may garnish your eventual Social Security check and any income tax refunds until this debt (along with associated fines and costs) is fully paid. What should you do if you’re having trouble paying your outstanding taxes? If you’ve found yourself in this situation after closing your business, it’s important to be proactive. The IRS is often willing to work with consumers and business proprietors to come up with a mutually-agreeable repayment plan — but seeking out such a plan yourself gives you much more control over the process than allowing the IRS to obtain a civil judgment against you to garnish your wages or freeze other assets. You’ll want to consult a tax attorney who is experienced in entering into tax settlements. He or she will be able to evaluate any offers you receive to determine whether they are truly in your best interest or if the IRS and your state’s revenue agency are overreaching. The type of settlement or payment plan available to you largely depends on the type of tax debt you have. If you’ve failed to pay your business’s regular income taxes during your final year of operation, you may be able to come to an agreement with the IRS allowing you to pay a reduced amount if you can establish hardship and agree to make regular payments toward the debt. If you’ve withheld (but failed to pay) payroll taxes from your employees, including FICA, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get by without paying the entire amount you owe. Because the Social Security Administration uses collected FICA taxes to determine whether an individual is...

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