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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Tax Return Filing Obligations Imposed on Bankrupt Debtors

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) amends the U.S. Bankruptcy Code by adding new tax return responsibilities for debtors. Most BAPCPA provisions apply to cases filed on or after Oct. 17, 2005.

If debtors fail to file a return that becomes due after the date of their bankruptcy petition, or fail to file an extension, the IRS may request the Court to order a conversion (change from Chapter 7 to Chapter 11 or from Chapter 11 to Chapter 13, for example) or dismiss the case. To have their plan confirmed, Chapter 13 debtors must also file all tax returns with IRS for the four-year period before the bankruptcy petition. The debtor must establish filing by the first meeting of creditors.

Seven days before the first meeting of creditors, debtors must give trustees a copy of their most recently filed federal tax return or a transcript of the return. Similarly, copies of amendments to the returns, and any past due returns filed while the case is pending, must also be filed with the court if requested. The returns or transcripts must be provided to the court at the same time they are filed with IRS. If the returns or transcripts are not filed, a Chapter 7 discharge will not be granted, or a Chapter 11 or 13 plan will not be confirmed. In addition, debtors must also provide a copy of the tax return or transcript to requesting creditors.

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