Attorney mis-handled and lied about taxes and chapter 13/7

Asked over 1 year ago - Birmingham, AL

I filed a cha 13 in 2009. The majority of my debt was taxes. I was making payments on time every month. In 2012 I got a bonus at work and sent in extra money. I then shortly after lost my job to a layoff. I went to court to have the extra money applied to the FULL tax amount which was approved and "supposedly" done. I then a few months later after not finding a job filed for it to convert to cha 7. I even asked my attorney if there was anything else I needed to do tax wise and he said no. Now five months later I have a $3700 tax bill with penalties and interest. My attorney wont even return my calls. What do I do about this?

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Dorothy G Bunce


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You need to meet with a bankruptcy or tax attorney to review your paperwork. I cannot venture to guess an answer, but the most likely explanation is that you had some tax debt that wasn't eligible to be discharged and that the amount you paid wasn't sufficient to pay off both the tax debt and the court administrative costs. The Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee sent you a final report showing where your payments were applied, and it is unfortunate that you are only now questioning information contained in that report. Hope this perspective helps!

  2. Scott Benjamin Riddle


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Your story does not back up your accusation against your lawyer, as it appears you do not know what happened. If you have questions about how the money was applied in your Ch. 7, either try to get in touch with your lawyer again, or have a new one review it. You might also ask the Trustee for an accounting (though normally that is filed and served in a case like yours in which money is distributed). The Ch. 13 Trustee distributes money pursuant to the law and procedures, not just where you want or expect it to go.

  3. James A Johnson

    Contributor Level 9


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I agree with the other lawyers that additional information is needed to give an accurate answer to this question. Definitely get a claims print-out from the Ch 13 trustee or go online and look at the claims. I would pull the actual proof oc claim(s) filed by the IRS which may give you additional information about the claim. Factors such as the year that these taxes were due, when you filed the tax returns, when the taxes were assessed, and when you filed the Chapter 13 all make a difference in terms of the classification of these taxes as priority debts or general unsecured debts and whether any, all, or a portion of these taxes are dischargeable. The dischargeability of taxes is one of the most complicated areas of Bankruptcy law.

    I find it odd that the court would approve the payment in full of the taxes with this "extra money" because that could prejudice the general unsecured creditirs and is generally not allowed. The other thing is that the conversion from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7 likely changed the treatment of the debt.

    I'm sorry that your attorney won't return your calls but it is not likely that he or she did anything wrong. He ro she may just be tired of being accused of doing something wrong when they did everything possible to help you. Just a thought and as I said it is impossible to determine what really happened without more information. I'd be the first to tell you if I thought your attorney screwed up.

    If you can;t figure out yourself what happened by looking at the actual claims and trustee report I would contact another bankruptcy attorney and pay them to research this and give you an answer. In the long run it may be cheaper and easier to pay the taxes.

  4. Judson Eric Crump

    Contributor Level 8


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Taxes are hard to get rid of in bankruptcy and doing so requires a careful analysis of the taxes themselves. But the good news is that the taxes that are not subject to discharge are given higher priority than regular unsecured claims. 11 U.S.C. Sec. 507(a)(8). This means that they are supposed to get paid before junk debt like credit cards, medical bills, and payday loans. So if, for example, you sent $10,000 to the Trustee and you owed $20,000 of taxes and $30,000 of regular unsecured debt, the Trustee should have paid all $10,000 to the taxes and $0.00 to the unsecured creditors - assuming you didn't have other debts with even higher priority, like child support and administrative expenses.

  5. Diane L Gruber


    Contributor Level 18


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Ask the Ch.13 trustee for a list of claims filed and claims paid. That will tell you whether or not there was enough money in your Ch.13 Plan to pay your tax debt in full. Since you did not finish your Ch.13 Plan, my guess is "no."

    Be sure to designate "best answer." If you live in Oregon, you may call me for more detailed advice, 503-650-9662.... more

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