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tax refund question - our confirmation order contains no language

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  • tax refund question - our confirmation order contains no language

    Ok; so, I am filling out the tax forms. Looks like, if we file with itemized deductions, we would get a refund. If we file with the standard deduction, we would owe. I asked the attorney a few times (prior to plan approval) about tax returns and tax refunds (we are in Colorado). He consistently stated: No, we do not need to submit the tax returns. The confirmation order (confirmed plan documentation) includes no language whatsoever regarding tax returns and tax refunds. Since the confirmed plan is the legally binding agreement between the trustee and us, perhaps we do not need to submit tax refunds.

    I have seen several threads here regarding this subject; in some cases, folks indicate the trustee takes half of their tax refund. I assume language to that effect is included in their confirmation order.



  • #2
    If your attorney said you do not need to submit tax returns to the trustee and your confirmation order does not state that you must provide tax refunds to the trustee, I would say you can keep your refund. My CO is silent on tax refunds and after completing 4 years, the trustee has not requested my returns and has not requested my refunds.
    Filed Ch 13 Fall 2013, 60 month plan


    • #3
      My confirmation order contains no language about tax refunds. He knows the trustee for my district very well and said not to expect to hear anything from her and to just keep my head down and keep making payments.


      • #4
        Ok, thanks Switch, and NewLife.


        • #5
          Confirmation orders are specific to the individual debtor's case. Districts differ between how they treat tax refunds. Some debtor attorneys take the average of the annual tax refund (when doing the Means Test) and add it into the regular income so that it's already factored. Some districts allow the debtor to keep half. Some districts allow the debt to keep the first $2,000 or more. Some districts take it all!

          As you can see, it differs across the land. The key fact is that you need to review your confirmation order. If the confirmation order is silent on tax refunds, then consider yourself lucky that you do not need to surrender any tax refunds.

          I am actually jealous as my district takes the full tax refund, unless you appeal to the Trustee (on a standard form) to use some or all of the refund for necessities.
          Last edited by justbroke; 01-17-2018, 09:22 PM.
          Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
          Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
          Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog

          I am not an attorney. Any advice provided is not legal advice.


          • #6
            Last year we filed through H&R Block and received a refund of $1200 (this was for the year my mother died that we unwisely refinanced in late January thus losing mortgage points on the lousy "investor" house before we sold it in July) which the lawyer listed as an asset on our original petition. This year I would expect the trustee will demand the entire refund unless the medical bills we still owe (around $1500) or the upcoming necessary repairs to the cars- $750 for the air conditioning unit in the 2013 car and the broken driver handle, which my husband rigged to hold by inserting some thick wire (not sure how long it will work before it breaks) in the 2005 car, are considered reasonable expenses.
            Thank you all for replying - I simply do not trust this lawyer - he has flipped flopped on many things he told us. Is the original CO the defining factor -I mean can the trustee change his mind and amend it to include tax refunds or tax filings if it not does not mention them at all?


            • #7
              Thanks justbroke.
              I will review the confirmation order again tonight. I read it several times over when we first got it last year, specifically scanning for language regarding tax returns, forms, and refunds. I saw nothing then. But, it's good to review to be sure I didn't miss it.

              Just in case:
              what would I expect to see on the confirmation order, if there was language specific to tax returns, forms, and refunds? What keywords, for example (aside from: tax, refund, form) ?
              I ask, just in the event that there are keywords there, that I just don't *connect*.



              • #8
                It is usually something as simple as... "the Debtor must commit all tax refunds, beginning with tax year XXXX to the plan each year during the applicable plan period."


                "all future refunds from the Internal Revenue Service shall be turned over to the Chapter 13 Trustee for distribution to the general unsecured creditors who have filed timely unsecured claims."

                (these are solely examples and, as you can read, the language can differ.)
                Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
                Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
                Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog

                I am not an attorney. Any advice provided is not legal advice.


                • #9
                  The confirmation letter says nothing about Anything, really.

                  The title is:
                  Order Confirming Debtor's/Debtors' Amended Chapter 13 Plan >>> So, I take it, I am looking the right document.

                  It Is Ordered:
                  The Debtors' Plan filed on <Date> at docket no. ## is confirmed;
                  The Debtors shall make payments in accordance with the terms of the Plan.
                  The Debtors filed in good faith...
                  The value of property is not less than the Chapter 7 value...
                  Creditors holding liens.... bla bla bla
                  bla bla bla...

                  Any hearing on Confirmation of the Plan is Vacated by this Order.

                  bla bla bla

                  In this document, there is no: 'Tax', 'Refund', 'Return', 'IRS', 'Internal Revenue Service', etc.
                  There is also no reference to secured nor unsecured debt, no reference to forbiddance of changing W4 allowances, etc; it's very generic.

                  Ok; thanks!

                  Phew. I need a drink.


                  • #10
                    So, combine that with your attorney informing you that it's not required to surrender tax refunds, then I would say that you are good to go. I have a small suggestion though. Since you lived without that withheld tax refund for the year, try saving the majority of those funds for your emergency (squirrel) fund.
                    Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
                    Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
                    Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog

                    I am not an attorney. Any advice provided is not legal advice.


                    • #11
                      Thanks justbroke.
                      The attorney just replied, stating: "The Plan does not contain any requirement for you to turn over or disclose your tax refund to the Trustee. This would be in section VG if it were required."

                      So, now we know.

                      Ok; moving forward.


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