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Can a federal tax refund be used to pay a state tax balance after a bankruptcy is filed in a Chapter 7 bk?

Salt Lake City, UT |

The Chapter 7 trustee has the authority to seize a federal or state tax refund after a Chapter 7 bk is filed. What if the federal tax refund is $500 and the state tax due is $500 after filing bankruptcy? Can the federal refund be used to pay the $500 state balance or does it have to be turned over to the trustee to make that decision?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Best answer

    The answer to your question is complicated. You have to list your right to a specific year of state, federal and local tax refunds on Schedule B. Value them at their face value, if you know the value. List the value as "unknown" if you you have not yet filed the return. Then, you must exempt the refunds on Schedule C.

    I don't know the exemptions that apply to Utah. You'll need to look them up. You should have an exemption available for "Cash and right to receive cash" and an exemption for "Other property selected by debtor" or something like that.

    If a husband and wife are both on the return, they can both claim the allowable exemptions for their home state. That effectively doubles the amount of exempt funds available.

    And yes, in most places, the trustees allow debtors to offset taxes due in the same year against each other. Most permit an offset of the cost of the tax preparers' fees also.

    As you can see, you can can easily cost yourself money by going into bankruptcy without a attorney. Many good bankruptcy attorneys offer an initial consultation at no cost. Why not try a few? Good luck.

    This answer is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship and may not be relied upon as legal advice. A careful examination of the facts is necessary before a legal answer may be relied on. You should consult your own attorney before taking or refraining from any legal action.


  2. In the District of Oregon the trustees do not take any money in your scenerio. If you get a $3000 IRS refund and owe $500 to State, the trustee would want $2500. Ask you BK attorney what is done by YOUR trustee. Good luck.

    Be sure to designate "best answer." If you live in Oregon, you may call me for more detailed advice, 503-650-9662. Please be aware that each answer on this website is based upon the facts, or lack thereof, provided in the question. To be sure you get complete and comprehensive answers, based upon the totality of your situation, contact a local attorney who specializes in the area of law that involves your legal problem. Diane L. Gruber has been practicing law in Oregon for 26 years, specializing in family law, bankruptcy, estate planning and probate. Note: Diane L. Gruber does not represent you until a written fee agreement has been signed by you and Diane L. Gruber, and the fee listed in the agreement has been paid.


  3. If the Trustee takes the federal refund, you want the money to be used to pay the state tax debt, right? Unfortunately, sometimes state tax authorities don't file claims in time, but you are entitled to file a claim on behalf of one of your creditors and I would suggest that you do so. If the claim is found to be a priority claim, all the money, except for a small commission paid to the trustee, will go to pay the tax debt. Hope this perspective helps!

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