I did not have any federal taxes witheld in 2013 because I qualifed for EEC in 2012. Therefore my refund will be entirely from EEC. Is my refund mine to keep for an emergency fund when I file chapter 7? Can I use part of it to "buy back" property (family heirloom) that is non-exempt from the trustee?
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney
You need to review this with a Maine attorney, you can find one on this web site using the Find A Lawyer tab. You need to understand the available exemptions. But if the cash is exempt, you can use it for any purpose you wish.
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Unless your state has a specific law or a wild card providing that this money is exempt, it probably isn't. I am attaching a link to a general description of the exemptions allowed in all 50 states. Hope this perspective helps!
Do you mean EIC (Earned Income Credit)? If so, it might be exempt. If it is, you can use it to buy back a non-exempt asset from the trustee. If it is exempt, you keep it without needing to buy it back.
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Only someone familiar with Maine bankruptcy law can tell you. Here in Utah the tax refund is the most often seized property in a Ch 7. In a Ch 13 the debtor is allowed to keep up to $1000 of the EIC tax refund. You need to speak with someone who practices in Maine to see what happens in your district.
This is not legal advice and I am not your attorney until you retain my office. Always consult with an attorney in your area before acting on anything you read on the internet.