Bankruptcy and Taxes: Understanding the Implications and Options

Bankruptcy and Taxes: Understanding the Implications and Options
Corey Beck

Las Vegas is known for its glitz and glamour, but when financial difficulties arise, it is crucial to understand the interplay between bankruptcy and taxes, especially for Nevadans seeking relief. Bankruptcy offers a way out of overwhelming debt, but the implications it has on taxes can be complicated. In this blog, we'll explore how bankruptcy and taxes intersect in Las Vegas, and we’ll highlight key considerations for those facing financial hardship in this vibrant city.

Exploring the Different Types of Bankruptcy

Lawyer over looking different types of bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a legal recourse for individuals and businesses facing debts they cannot repay. It provides a fresh start by allowing debtors to restructure or eliminate their debts under the guidance of the court. There are several bankruptcy chapters available under U.S. law, each with its own eligibility criteria and processes, but the most common include Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13.

Below is a brief rundown of each of the main chapters and who they apply to:

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Also known as "liquidation" bankruptcy, Chapter 7 involves the sale of non-exempt assets to pay off creditors. Any dischargeable tax debts that meet the necessary criteria can be eliminated, providing the debtor with a clean slate. However, non-exempt assets sold in Chapter 7 could have potential tax consequences. The forgiven debt resulting from the sale of assets might be considered taxable income.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves a repayment plan over three to five years. While some dischargeable tax debts can still be eliminated, the debtor's income and expenses play a significant role in determining the repayment plan. Tax refunds during the repayment period might also be considered disposable income and can contribute to the repayment amount. 

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: Often referred to as “reorganization” bankruptcy, Chapter 11 bankruptcy predominantly only applies to businesses. Its main purpose is to allow businesses to maintain day-to-day functions by providing a mechanism through which businesses can remain operational and gradually settle their debts with creditors. 

The Relationship Between Bankruptcy and Taxes

Glasses highlighting on sticky note that says taxes

Bankruptcy and taxes may be two separate legal processes, but they can have a significant impact on one another. The primary issue lies in the classification of debts. In the bankruptcy process, debts are categorized as either dischargeable or non-dischargeable. Dischargeable debts can be wiped out during bankruptcy, offering the debtor a fresh start. Non-dischargeable debts, however, cannot be eliminated through bankruptcy. Understanding the tax implications of bankruptcy is essential to prevent any unexpected surprises during the process. Here are key points to consider and discussed with a business and tax attorney: 

Dischargeable Taxes: Income taxes can potentially be discharged in 

bankruptcy if certain conditions are met. These conditions generally include:

  • The tax debt must be related to a tax return that was due at least three years before the bankruptcy filing.
  • The tax return must have been filed at least two years before the bankruptcy filing.
  • The tax assessment must have been made at least 240 days before the bankruptcy filing. The debtor must not have committed any tax fraud or evasion.

Non-dischargeable Taxes: While income taxes can sometimes be discharged, certain tax obligations cannot be eliminated through bankruptcy. These include:

  • Property taxes 
  • Withheld taxes that have been collected from employees but not yet remitted to the government  
  • Trust fund taxes such as payroll taxes

Local Considerations for Nevadans

Nevada's unique legal environment influences how bankruptcy and taxes interact for residents of Las Vegas. Whether you're considering bankruptcy or another path, below are a few local considerations to understand and keep in mind:

Homestead Exemption: Nevada's homestead exemption is particularly generous, allowing individuals to protect a substantial amount of equity in their primary residence during bankruptcy proceedings. This exemption can safeguard your home from being liquidated to pay off creditors, enabling you to maintain stability while dealing with tax and other debt. 

State Income Tax: One notable advantage for residents of Las Vegas is the absence of state income tax. While federal income taxes can be subject to discharge under specific conditions, the absence of state income tax obligations might simplify the tax-related aspects of bankruptcy for some Nevadans.

Local Tax Liens: Tax liens placed on property by local authorities before filing for bankruptcy can survive the process, potentially impacting property ownership even after debt discharge. Working with experienced legal and tax professionals can help you address these challenges effectively.

Options Other Than Bankruptcy 

lawyer discussing on other bankruptcy options

While bankruptcy can provide significant relief to those under financial duress, there remain other options for handling debts that include: 

Request an Installment Agreement: If you have tax debts that don't qualify for discharge, you might consider setting up an installment agreement with the IRS. This allows you to pay off your tax debts over time.

Offer in Compromise: In some cases, you might be able to settle your tax debt with the IRS for less than the full amount through an offer in compromise. This option requires meeting specific criteria and demonstrating your inability to pay the full debt.

Consider Timing: Waiting until your tax debt meets the criteria for discharge can be a strategic move. If your tax debt is on the verge of becoming dischargeable, delaying the bankruptcy process might save you from potential tax consequences.

Consult a Professional: Navigating the intricate landscape of bankruptcy and taxes requires expertise. Consulting with an experienced bankruptcy attorney and a tax professional can ensure that you're well-informed about the tax implications of your bankruptcy choices and are choosing the best course of action tailored to your situation.

The skilled professionals at The Law Office of Corey Beck are committed to 

delivering exceptional legal services across various practice areas. For those looking at exploring the bankruptcy process and the tax implications associated, we are here to provide you with the expert legal support you need. No matter the challenges you're facing, our firm is well-equipped to guide you through the complexities of your case. Contact our office today and get the legal help you need.

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