It’s that time of year for tax refunds. We have questions from folks as to whether they can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy before filing taxes and still keep their tax refunds coming to them after they file bankruptcy or whether they can keep a tax refund received right before filing bankruptcy.
The answer is that they generally can keep their refunds, depending, of course, on how large the refund is. The general bankruptcy exemptions available under the federal bankruptcy exemptions (which we can use in Kentucky) are usually large enough to protect most tax refunds from being lost to the trustee. You can also use your tax refund to pay the fees and costs for the bankruptcy.
Also, if you are thinking about filing bankruptcy, and are going to use your tax refund to pay off a debt to a family member or creditor prior to filing bankruptcy, you should consult with a bankruptcy attorney before doing that. There are provisions in the bankruptcy law which may allow the trustee to take that money back from the family member or creditor should you then file bankruptcy after paying them. Alternatively, if you just keep the refund and don’t pay any of it to anyone, then the refund may be able to be protected with the exemptions as outlined above, and as we said above, used to pay the fees and costs for the bankruptcy.
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