Would that the answer to your question should be as simple as you wish. Whether any or all of your tax refund will become property of your bankruptcy estate depends on the exemption laws that apply. With the limited information you have provided, it is impossible to predict. Secondly the estate's share will be defined by the number of days of the tax year that have elapsed when you file your bankruptcy petition, so the earlier in the year you file, the lower the percentage that must be surrendered.
The complexity of just this one question, and the amount of money involved, should convince you that you will fare far better in a bankruptcy action with capable legal assistance. You are indeed fortunate to have Madison attorney Ken Doran available. You should contact him and start with a consultation which, even if there is a modest fee, will be a valuable and reliable start on the way to bankruptcy relief.
Best wishes for a favorable outcome, and please remember to designate a best answer.
This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.
I agree with Ms. Sinclair. In addition to her comments, I would add that your prepaid rent could also be considered an asset that you would want to exempt. Well over 90% of Debtors who use attorneys lose NOTHING in their bankruptcy. About 40% of those who do not use attorneys end up losing some assets.
It is hard to answer the question without looking at your entire assets. It also depends on what Chapter of bankruptcy you can file under.
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The other lawyers who have responded are correct that the answer depends on knowing your whole situation, particularly including your other property or assets. In my experience, the chances of being able to keep a refund of this size are actually very good. However, this would be a risky thing to take on without being advised and represented by a lawyer.
No they should not be able to take your refunds. If you file Chapter 7, your refunds will probably be exempt, but I would need to look at your entire situation to verify this. I have a nice summary on Bankruptcy at my website, FondduLacAttorney.com. Dawn