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Does my bankruptcy attorney know how to properly discharge my personal income taxes?

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    Does my bankruptcy attorney know how to properly discharge my personal income taxes?

    Hi there,

    I have so many questions about my bankruptcy but one that is really pressing is the fact that I chose the least patient attorney because he originally told me at our first meeting that he knew how to discharge taxes in bankruptcy even though I needed to tell him what all of the rules for discharging the taxes are.

    At our last meeting where we sign the documents before filing I once again asked him about the taxes. He said he wasn't sure about how much would be discharged. I reminded him that I meet all of the rules to have my taxes discharged. He looked at them and said they do look old so you are probably right.

    Later, I called to ask his legal assistant a question about the bankruptcy and she said in all her years there she has never seen anyone's taxes discharged in a bankruptcy! Big red flag! She said he must know what he is doing though.

    The only thing that was done with my taxes is that they were put on a schedule E. The addresses where they are to go was an address chosen by his assistant. Also, for my state taxes it shows my name and only the last 4 numbers of my social security number. My questions regarding this are does my attorney need to take any further steps than just putting the taxes due on the schedule E for them to be discharged as long as I meet all of the rules? Should my entire social security number need to be shown to the State of Maryland in order to have the taxes discharged? Are there special addresses where the bankruptcy paperwork needs to go to the State of Maryland and to the IRS? Will the interest and penalty also go away with the discharge? Finally, is there anything I can do a bout the liens on my credit report once the taxes are discharged?

    Thank you so much for helping me out with this!

    First, if the taxes were last due more than 3 years ago, filed at least 2 years ago, and wasn't assessed within 240 days, then they are dischargeable. I would have put them on Schedule F as general unsecured debt and not "Priority" unsecured debt. If they are dischargeable, then they are certainly not given priority status.

    FYI, on the schedules, your full SSN should never ever appear. The court sends your full SSN to every creditor on the creditor mailing matrix. There are probably no "special" addresses and if there are, the court for your specific District, typically sends notices to special addresses automatically. In fact, may "special" creditors are notified electronically and not by mail. (My District automatically sends any taxes to the IRS, State of Florida, and "county" tax collector.) These are "well known" addresses and the clerks get these right.

    I do not know how a legal assistant would know about the discharge of taxes. Unless a case specifically "fought" the IRS through an Adversary Proceeding (AP/Complaint), I don't see how they would know. The taxes should just be discharged and the IRS should mark them as such "if" they fit the criteria. (If you think they fit the criteria and the IRS believes they don't... then you fight with an AP.) Your attorney is right to say that they "look" old and that he does not know how much would be discharged. That will be based on how your taxes actually hold up to the 3YR/2YR/240DAYS criteria, as well as other criteria (such as type of tax, frivolous returns, late filed return issues, assessments, etc.).

    Now, I can't say the practice is in your District. If is very likely that the IRS will automatically stop collection and mark the "old" taxes as discharged if they fit all the rules. That is typically the case. People typically wait until some time after the discharge, and then obtain an account statement from the IRS which would show whether they still show the "subject" years still in collection status.

    Bottom line: it should be automatic. Personally, I would have put them on Schedule F if they met the criteria, but that should not matter. The IRS is going to send this to their Insolvency Department and they are going to look at how "they" (the IRS) determines to treat the "old" taxes. If they do fit the criteria, the IRS will do the right thing.

    As for any tax liens, once the case is discharged and you wait several weeks, contact the taxing authorities (Maryland, IRS) and see what they did with your account. If the taxes were in fact discharged (automatically) then the liens should go away soon thereafter. You may need to ask them to remove any Federal Tax Lien or State Lien, but I would hope it would be done via automation (by the computers once the tax debt is cleared as discharged).
    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

    Any advice provided is not legal advice, but simply the musings of a fellow bankrupt.


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