Don’t disregard bankruptcy as an option just because it does not write off the debt which is your immediate big headache. There’s likely some good medicine for that headache after all.

Let’s say you owe a dreadfully large income tax debt from a couple of years ago. The IRS is getting aggressive about collecting it. You know for a fact that bankruptcy doesn’t discharge (legally write off) income tax debts, so you’re not seriously considering that option and have not seen a bankruptcy attorney.

You may or may not be right about whether or not that tax debt can be discharged. That’s almost always a matter of timing. So if indeed you could not discharge your debt a few months ago, that might not be true today, or might not be true a few months from now.)But whether or not the debt can be discharged,  either way, you would probably be wrong about not getting legal advice about it.

Why? Whether that special debt that you know can’t be discharged is a tax debt, back child support, student loans, or some other troublesome debt, here are six reasons you should STILL get legal advice about the bankruptcy  option:

1. Some debts which look like they can’t be discharged actually can. Certain income taxes can be discharged in either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case, depending on how old they are and a series of other factors. Sometime a portion of an otherwise not dischargeable tax debt—such as the penalties—can be discharged, sometimes significantly reducing the amount you need to pay. Student loans are difficult to discharge, but in some unusual situations can be. And even though true child support obligations are not dischargeable, in rare situations a debt which you thought was a support obligation might not fit the legal definition for bankruptcy purposes. It’s certainly worth finding out whether the debt you assume can’t be discharged actually might be able to be.

2. Some debts that can’t be discharged now may be able to be in the future. Almost all income taxes can be discharged after a series of conditions have been met. So your attorney can put together for you a game plan coordinating these tax timing rules with all the rest of what is going on in your financial life. Timing issues can sometimes also be important with student loans, especially if you have a worsening medical condition or are simply getting close to retirement age

3. Even if you can’t discharge a debt, bankruptcy can permanently solve an aggressive collection problem.  In many situations your primary problem is the devastating way a debt is being collected. For example, you may want to pay an obligation for back child support but the state support enforcement agency is about to suspend your driver’s and/or occupational license. A Chapter 13 case will stop these threats to your livelihood, and protect you from them while you catch up on the back support.

4. You have more control over the amount of the monthly payments on debts that cannot be discharged. Debts which the law does not allow to be discharged in bankruptcy also tend to be ones that give the creditors a lot of leverage against you. Chapter 13 takes most of this leverage away from them and puts their power on hold while you pay what your budget allows, not what these creditors would otherwise be gouging out of you.

5. Bankruptcy can stop the adding of interest, penalties, and other costs, allowing you to pay off a debt much faster. Unpaid income taxes and certain other kinds of debts are so much more difficult to pay off because a part of each payment goes to the ongoing interest and penalties. Some tax penalties in particular can be huge. Most of these ongoing add-ons are stopped by a Chapter 13 filing, allowing you to become debt-free sooner.

6. Bankruptcy allows you to focus on paying off the debt(s) that you can’t discharge by discharging those you can. You may have both a debt or two that can’t be discharged and a bunch of debts that can be. Even if bankruptcy can’t solve your entire debt problem directly, discharging most of your debts would likely make that problem much more manageable. Under Chapter 7, you would be able to pay off those surviving debts much faster, which is especially important if they are accruing interest or other fees. And under Chapter 13 you would have the benefit of a predictable payment program, one that focuses your financial energies on those nondischargeable debts while protecting your assets and income from them.

So don’t let the fact that you have a debt or debts that can’t be discharged in bankruptcy stop you from getting legal advice about how your overall financial life could still be much improved through one of the bankruptcy options.  

Your vehicle loan, home mortgage, account at the appliance or electronics store, and maybe a debt that’s resulted in a judgment lien—these debts with collateral are the ones that grab the most attention during a bankruptcy case. And that includes the attention of the creditors, very interested in “their” collateral.


General unsecured debts, which I talked about in the last two blogs, are pleasantly boring in most bankruptcy cases. In a Chapter 7 case, they are generally discharged (legally written off) without any opposition by the creditors, who usually get nothing. And in a Chapter 13 case, general unsecured debts are often just paid whatever money is left over after the secured and priority debts, and trustee and attorney fees, are paid. Nice and boring. That’s because the creditors don’t have much to fight about.

But with secured debts—debts with collateral—both sides have something to fight about—the collateral. The creditors know that the vehicle or house or other collateral is the only thing backing up the debt you owe to them, so they can get quite pushy about protecting that collateral.

The next few blogs will be about how you use either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 to deal with the most important kinds of secured debts. Today we start with a few basic points that apply to just about all secured debts.

Two Deals in One

It helps to look at any secured debt as two interrelated agreements between you and the creditor. First, the creditor agreed to give you money or credit in return for your promise to repay it on certain terms. Second, you received rights to—and usually title in—the collateral, with you in return agreeing that the creditor can take that collateral if you don’t comply with your first agreement to repay the money.

Generally, bankruptcy will absolve you of that first agreement—your promise to pay—but the creditors’ rights to collateral survive bankruptcy (except in certain rare situations we will highlight later). Your ability to discharge the debt gives you some options, and can sometimes give you a certain amount of leverage. But the creditors’ rights about the collateral give them certain options and leverage, too. You’ll see how this tug-of-war plays out with vehicle and home loans, and few other important secured debts.

Value of Collateral

In that tug-of-war between your power to discharge the debt and a creditor’s rights to the collateral, how much the collateral is worth as compared to the amount of the debt becomes very important. If the collateral is worth a lot more than the amount of the debt, the creditor is said to be well-secured. It has a much better chance of having the debt be paid in full. You’ll really want to pay off the relatively small debt to get the relatively expensive collateral free and clear of that debt. Or if you didn’t make the payments the creditor will get the collateral and sell it for at least as much as the debt.

If the collateral is worth less than the amount of the debt, the creditor is said to be undersecured. It is much less likely to have this debt paid in full. You’ll be less likely to pay a debt only to get collateral worth less than what you’re paying. And if you surrender the collateral the creditor will sell it for less than the debt amount.

Depreciation of Collateral, and Interest

With the value of the collateral being such an important consideration, the loss of value through depreciation is something that creditors care about, a concern which the bankruptcy court respects. Also, in most situations secured creditors are entitled to interest. So, you’ll see that in fights with secured creditors, this issue about the combined amount of monthly depreciation and interest often comes into play.


Virtually every agreement with a secured creditor—certainly those involving vehicles and homes—requires that you carry insurance on the collateral. If the collateral is damaged or destroyed, this insurance usually pays the debt on the collateral before it pays you anything. And, if you fail to get the required insurance—or sometimes even if you simply don’t inform the creditor about having the insurance—the creditor itself is entitled to buy “force-placed” insurance to protect only its interest in the collateral, AND charge you the often outrageously high premium.


With these points in mind, the next blog will tell you your options with your vehicle loan under Chapter 7.

A short sale of your home is sometimes your best alternative. But short sales often do not successfully close, and even when they do you must be vigilant to avoid problems later.

In a short sale, a house is sold by “shorting”—underpaying—one or more of the lenders (or “lienholders”), because the value of the house, and thus the purchase price offered by the reasonable buyer, is not enough to pay everyone in full. The liens can include not just voluntary ones such as the first and second mortgage, but also judgments, income taxes, support obligations, unpaid utilities, and property taxes. All lienholders must consent and release their liens, or the sale cannot occur, because the title needs to be clear for the new buyer to be in full ownership.

The important thing to know is that unless you get a full settlement or satisfaction in writing you may face continuing liability to any creditor who was not paid in full, even after the sale!  This is why it is important to work with competent and knowledgeable professionals in dealing with any short sale situation.

The primary benefit of a short sale is that it avoids a foreclosure on the homeowner’s credit record—that is, it does so IF the short sale is successful. Generally, the most common current underwriting criteria will prevent a borrower from qualifying for a new home loan for up to 7 years after a foreclosure, but only 2-4 years after a short sale.  (However, given the present economic climate, in the future there may be less credit record difference between a short sale and a foreclosure.)  This credit record difference is often the primary reason borrowers will try to do a short sale, instead of just letting a property go to foreclosure.

Short sales can have problems, however.

First, they can be much harder to pull off than expected, and can take much longer than expected. It is also possible they fail to close, typically due to servicer/lender rejection of reasonable purchase offers, which can be very frustrating to all parties involved.  Short sales may also fail due to:

  • Lack of incentive of the Servicer:  Many mortgage companies are not well organized or staffed to handle short sale negotiations.  Borrowers and agents generally must work through a servicing company, whose financial incentives may well not encourage short sales. So they may drag their heels, and can even sabotage your efforts, even after months of submitting documents and reasonable offers.  This causes many would-be buyers to get frustrated and walk away from the deal rather than keep trying in the face of such adversity and frustration.  LAck of responsiveness of servicers is a major cause of short sale failures.
  • Since all lienholders must agree, any one of them can kill the deal: To accomplish a short sale, usually the first mortgage holder has to give up some money to a junior lienholder or two. The benefit to the first mortgage holder is that getting a little less out of the sale is better than incurring the substantial costs and delay of foreclosure.  However, they may not be willing to allow enough money to a junior to entice all parties to allow the short sale to be completed.  Everybody wants their “fair share” of a pie that is too small to make everybody happy.  So just when you think you have a deal among the main players , someone else crawls out of the woodwork demanding a payment and jeopardizing the closing. They all have a legal claim against the property, and can delay or undo the whole deal.
  • Closing and other costs can be too high: Sometimes after adding up all the closing costs and realtor fees, there may not be a high enough “net proceed” number to entice the lender to do the deal.  Of course, the realtors and their negotiating agents are doing a lion’s share of the work in any short sale process, and must be adequately compensated by the lender at closing.  This is how a short sale can be done with little or no out-of-pocket cost to the borrower.  Sometimes the banks have a hard time with this concept and will lead to a sale failure by their rejection of reasonable market offers.  This just means they will actually lose more money in the long run, and it is frustrating for everyone involved, particularly the realtors and others who put substantial time and efforts into the process only to have it fail due to a recalcitrant or incompetent servicing agent.

Short sales can be dangerous if you are not well-informed:

  • Potential liability from unpaid balances on the junior mortgages and liens: Although you may be told that you will not be liable, you need to be sure that the acceptance and/or settlement documents and the applicable law in fact cut off any financial liability to you following the sale. Also be aware that sometimes in the midst of the negotiations, especially if a junior lienholder is playing tough, and the closing has been delayed for a long time, you may be feel forced to accept some liability in order for the closing to occur.  This may or may not be in your best interest, and you may wish to consult with an attorney to discuss all the factors and options – be sure to consult with someone who is unbiased and who will advise as to your interests alone (unlike realtor or others who may only get paid upon sale).
  • Potential tax consequences: This issue deserves a whole blog by itself. The key principle is that debt forgiveness can be treated as income subject to taxation unless you fit within one of the exceptions. Make sure you talk with an appropriate tax specialist or attorney about this before investing any time or expectations in the short sale option.  Most residential borrowers will have an exception, but not always!

Bankruptcy CAN 1) legally write off some income taxes; 2) stop IRS wage garnishments, bank account levies, and tax liens; and 3) enable a faster payoff of the taxes you must pay, by avoiding most ongoing interest and penalties.

In the last two blogs I explained what happens to tax refunds in Chapter 7 and 13. But what if instead you owe income taxes? The treatment of tax debts in bankruptcy is a complicated subject, but here today I’m covering the most basic and important powers of bankruptcy over taxes.

1) The ability to “discharge” (write-off) income taxes:

I’m not going into the detailed rules here, but let me clear up any possible confusion: income taxes can be discharged if they meet some very specific conditions. Among those conditions:

  • the age of the particular tax
  • whether and when the tax return was filed
  • whether there was any effort to enter into an “offer in compromise”
  • whether there is evidence of tax evasion

Generally the older the tax, the more likely it will be discharged, although some of the conditions are not time-based.  If you owe more than one year of income taxes, then each year of tax debt is analyzed separately. In fact portions of each tax year’s debt—tax, interest, and penalties—are treated differently in many situations. To be clear, taxes can be discharged under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. So determining which of these two options is better requires carefully comparing how each treats your tax debts, as well as all your other debts.

2) The “automatic stay” applies to the IRS, and to the state and local taxing authorities:

Changes in the law tend to cause confusion, to get blown out of proportion. The last major overhaul of the bankruptcy laws by Congress in 2005 allowed the IRS and other tax agencies to do certain very limited things in spite of the taxpayer having filed a bankruptcy. These limited exceptions to the automatic stay include:

  • conducting (or continuing) a tax audit (but not taking any action outside the bankruptcy court to collect the tax resulting from the audit)
  • issuing a notice of deficiency
  • assessing the taxes
  • issuing a “notice and demand” (although again without taking any collection action)

Otherwise, just like all other creditors, the IRS and its state and local cousins cannot pursue collection of any liabilities while your bankruptcy case is pending, except in the unusual event that the bankruptcy court gives special permission to do so.

3. As for taxes that cannot be discharged, Chapter 13 usually provides a way to avoid most ongoing interest and penalties, reducing the total amount of taxes to pay:

Back taxes often take a long time to pay off because interest and penalties keep accruing while you are making the payments. Especially if your payments are relatively small, the additional interest and penalties can greatly increase the total you end up paying. But in a Chapter 13 case, the penalties stop accruing as soon as soon as your case is filed. Even the earlier penalties are treated like normal debt and so are often paid little or not at all. And interest does not get added unless that tax debt is covered by a recorded tax lien.  In combination these benefits can save lots of money. This lack or reduction in accruing interest and penalties also allows you to pay other important debts before paying the taxes—such as vehicles or home mortgage arrears. This allows you to better protect those valuable possessions by paying their debts faster.

If you’re a homeowner who is selling his or her home for any of the following three reasons, think again: 1) you can’t afford the house payments, 2) you owe income taxes with a tax lien on your house, and/or 3) your mortgage modification application was rejected.

In my last blog I told you the first three of ten reasons why you should get advice from a bankruptcy attorney before selling your home. Here are the next three. All of these are about saving you money, and helping you make much better decisions about your home.  

1.  Can’t Afford the House Payments:   It’s sensible to sell your home if it’s more house than you need, or you’re not able to make the payments. But you may really need to hang onto the house, and are selling it because you think you have no choice. If so, you may instead be able to keep your home either by reducing the debt attached to the house or by reducing the rest of your debt so that you can afford the house debt. I gave you some ways to reduce the debts on the house in my last blog, and will give some more in the next one. As for reducing or getting rid of the rest of your debt, even if you are resisting the idea of filing bankruptcy “just so I can afford my house,” you still owe it to yourself to know your options. We live in truly extraordinary times in terms of home values and economic uncertainty. So especially now, it’s wise to be open to creative ways of meeting your financial needs.

2.  Have Income Tax Debt:   If you owe back income taxes, these taxes may have already attached to your home’s title with the recording of a tax lien. Or that may happen in the near future. You may feel extra pressure to sell your home to pay those taxes. But Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy options can often help you deal with your tax debts, sometimes in ways better than you expect. Some income taxes can be legally written off altogether. Others would likely be able to be paid much less than outside bankruptcy, through huge savings in interest and penalties, and other possible advantages. The details are beyond what I can cover in this blog. But if income tax debts or tax liens are part of why you are selling your home, first find out how bankruptcy would deal with them.  

3.  Your Mortgage Modification Application Was Rejected:   Mortgage modification programs—both governmental ones like HAMP as well as private ones—have been tremendously controversial and of questionable benefit to homeowners.  They are almost always terribly frustrating to go through. Without getting into all that here, there are definitely times when mortgage modification requests are rejected because the homeowner did not fully complete the application or the mortgage lender did not process it accurately. Often it is not really clear why the modification was not approved. After going through this challenging process without a reduction in your mortgage payments, understandably you may well feel like you have no choice but to sell your home. But sometimes a bankruptcy filing—either Chapter 7 or 13, depending on the circumstances—can help get a mortgage modification approved, either the first time or in a renewed application. Reducing your debts through bankruptcy provides you more resources to put into your house, generally making you a better candidate for mortgage modification.

Deciding whether to sell your home involves a whole lot of factors–personal, financial, and legal. Virtually every time I meet with new clients who are thinking about selling their home, they learn a bunch of things which puts that decision in a whole different light.  Often, my clients are pleasantly surprised by options and advantages they did not know were available. Let me help you, too, make an informed and wise choice about most important asset.


Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 stop a foreclosure of your home. One or the other COULD be better for you, but which one is it?

Many considerations come into play in deciding whether a Chapter 7 or 13 is better medicine for you.  I could list literally dozens of possible ones. Focusing here just on factors involved in saving your house, there are still lots of advantages and disadvantages to each one. The answer turns on your unique circumstances. Lawyers are sometimes given a bad time for seemingly answering every question with “it depends.” But when it comes to your home and your financial well-being, the fact is that what you want and deserve are what is best for you in your unique circumstances. You don’t want a cookie-cutter answer but rather one that does in fact “depend” on your individual facts and on your personal financial goals.

Let’s assume that after looking at all the other aspects of your financial life, the choice between the two Chapters comes down to how that choice impacts on your house. And let’s also assume that this is a house in distress, where a foreclosure is already scheduled or is just around the corner.

In one sentence, the key difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 is that the first one generally buys you a relatively short time while the second one buys you a much longer time.

So that leaves as the main question whether—in your unique situation—a Chapter 7 would buy you enough time, or if you instead need the much stronger medicine of Chapter 13.

Chapter 13 deservedly has the reputation of being the home-saving chapter of bankruptcy. But every day of the week Chapter 7 bankruptcies are filed which save people’s homes. If you have a sale pending on your house but you’ve run out of time with a scheduled foreclosure; if you have some money coming to cure the arrearage but again have run out of time; if you are very close to getting a mortgage modification approved or are more likely get it approved after discharging you debts in bankruptcy; or if you’ve decided to surrender the house but need a little more time to get into another home—these are possible circumstances where Chapter 7 could well buy you enough time to do what you need to do for your home.

Admittedly, these are relatively rare situations. The much more common one is that you had lost some income or had emergency expenses, making it impossible to keep up the home mortgage payments. And then you regained that income, but maybe not all of it, and now you owe a whole lot in missed payments, late charges and other fees. No way can you catch up all that in just a few months. Chapter 13 can give you as much as five years to do so. Chapter 13 can also buy you much more time to sell your home, such as to get to a better selling season, or even maybe to allow a kid to finish high school. Chapter 13 can also be much better at dealing with other house-related debts, such as property taxes, second mortgages, and income tax liens. As I said, these choices depend on your unique set of circumstances.

You can build a nice gingerbread house out of cookie-cutters. But when it comes to your home, and you and your family’s well being, get the advice of an experienced attorney. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than helping save a family home. Let me help you make the very best choices about yours.

In my last blog I gave you the first five of ten big ways that Chapter 13 allows you to keep your home.  Here are the other five.


6. If you need to sell your home, Chapter 13 usually gives you much more time to do so than a Chapter 7 case. More time means more market exposure, which usually means selling at a better price. That’s especially true if you are otherwise forced to sell during a slower time of the year, or are trying to sell on a short sale (where the house is worth less than the debt against it). If you are behind on your mortgage payments and in danger of a foreclosure, a Chapter 7 case will usually only buy you an extra three months, and sometimes even less if the creditor is aggressive. Often the only way to stop the foreclosure is by paying the entire arrearage of payments, interest, late charges, foreclosure fees and attorney fees in a lump sum, often totaling tens of thousands of dollars. In contrast, in a Chapter 13 case you can usually maintain the status quo and stay in the house by resuming regular monthly mortgage payments and making meaningful progress towards paying the arrearage. If there is sufficient equity in the property, most or even all the arrearage can often be paid from the proceeds of the anticipated sale, reducing what needs to be paid monthly before then.

7. If you are behind on your child or spousal support obligations, Chapter 7 does nothing to stop collection efforts against you on those obligations, including against your home. Support obligations in most cases turn into liens against the real estate you own, including your home, often giving your ex-spouse the ability to force the sale of your home to pay the support arrearage. On the other hand, Chapter 13 does stop most collection efforts during your case as to any support arrearage which existed as of the time your bankruptcy is filed.  Your Plan must show how you are going to pay that arrearage before your case is completed, and you must stay current on those Plan obligations. But as long as you do, any support lien cannot be enforced against your home. At the end of your Chapter 13 case, you will have paid off the support arrearages, so the lien will be released, with no further risk to your home. (Important: Chapter 13 does NOT stop collection against any new support that you fail to pay after the filing date, so you must stay current on any such new obligations.)

8. In our last blog, I showed how Chapter 13 is usually the better option when dealing with an income tax lien against your home. There I used the situation in which the lien is on a tax debt that cannot be discharged—written off—in bankruptcy. But if the tax upon which the tax lien has been recorded can be discharged—because it is old enough and meets the other conditions for a dischargeable tax debt—dealing with the lien against your home in this situation is also better under Chapter 13. Depending on the amount of equity you have in your home and other possible factors, the IRS or other taxing authority may well not release the tax lien even after the underlying tax debt is discharged in a Chapter 7 case. In a Chapter 13 case, in contrast, there is an established mechanism for determining the value of that lien, and for paying it, so that at the completion of your case the tax debt is discharged and its lien is satisfied.

9. If you have fallen behind on property taxes, Chapter 13 is often the better way to deal with them. Usually, being current on property taxes is a condition of your mortgage, giving your mortgage lender an additional independent reason to foreclose if you are not. (This assumes you are not set up to pay the taxes through the “escrow” portion of your mortgage payment, but rather directly to the property tax authority.)  By showing in your Chapter 13 Plan how you are curing your property tax arrearage—even if it takes years to do so—your mortgage lender is no longer able to say you are in breach of your mortgage and justify foreclosing on that basis.

10. Saving the most obvious for last, people often file Chapter 13 to prevent a Chapter 7 trustee from taking assets that are worth more than the applicable exemptions. And that applies to your home as much as anything. If you have more equity in your home than the homestead exemption allows, you risk losing your home in a Chapter 7 case. That risk is aggravated these days because the highly irregular housing market makes property appraisals difficult to predict accurately. Chapter 7 trustees have a great deal of discretion, and predicting how aggressive yours will be is made even more difficult because in most places there is no way of knowing which trustee will be assigned to your case. In contrast, usually all Chapter 13s in a region are assigned to the single local “standing trustee.” So we are familiar with his or her inclinations. Even more important, Chapter 13 provides a much more predictable procedure for determining the value of a home, and a mechanism to protect the value of the home in excess of the homestead, if any.

In a nutshell, Chapter 13 provides quite a number of tools to help you keep your home. Simply said, it gives you more control over the situation. It is definitely not the automatic answer just because you have a home in distress, because Chapter 13 certainly has its limitations. But it is often a powerful option that you should discuss carefully with your attorney.  

In my experience the number one reason people choose to file Chapter 13 instead of Chapter 7 is to save their home. And it’s not just because it gives you a bigger hammer against your mortgage company. It gives you a hammer, but also a whole bunch of other tools. Some are more subtle but just as important in the right case. Each person’s situation probably doesn’t call for more than a few of those tools, but it’s great to have them all in the tool chest. So let’s look at the ten main ones, the first five in this blog and the other five in my next one.  

1.  The one tool most people know about is that in most circumstances you are given the length of your Chapter 13 Plan–as long as 5 years—to cure your mortgage arrears, the amount you are behind on your mortgages at the time your case is filed. Outside of Chapter 13, mortgage companies seldom let you have more than a few months to pay the arrears, an impossible task if you are not expecting to receive some windfall of money. During the entire repayment time that a Chapter 13 allows, you are protected from foreclosure and most other collection efforts, just so long as you play by the rules laid out in your Plan. If you do play by those rules, you will be completely current on your home when you finish your case.


2.  A benefit of Chapter 13 which has become tremendously helpful during these last few years of shrinking home values is the “stripping” of junior mortgages. If your home is worth no more than the amount of your first mortgage, then any second mortgage can be “stripped” of its lien against your home and treated in your Chapter 13 case like a “general unsecured creditor.” That means that the second mortgage balance is lumped in with the rest of those bottom-of-the-barrel creditors, and whatever portion of the balance is not paid during your case is written off at the end of it. This is not available in Chapter 7.


3. Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 prevent federal and other income tax liens from attaching to your home, but, assuming the lien would be on a tax that cannot be written off in bankruptcy, Chapter 7’s protection lasts only a few months. The tax lien can be imposed against your home just as soon as the Chapter 7 case is over, usually only about three months later. This gives the IRS or other taxing authority lots of additional leverage against you, requiring you to pay lots more interest and penalties, AND putting your house in jeopardy. In contrast, if you file a Chapter 13 case before a tax lien is recorded, there will never be a tax lien against your home. That’s because this tax will be paid off in your Chapter 13 case as a “priority creditor,” without any additional interest or penalties, with no tax enforcement—including a tax lien recording—permitted throughout the process.


4. Chapter 13 is also the better route if your home already has an unpaid income tax lien against it before you file bankruptcy. Again assuming that lien was imposed for a tax that cannot be written off in bankruptcy, Chapter 7 case neither provides you a way to pay this tax nor protects you from the full force of tax collection for any longer than a few short months. In contrast, Chapter 13 both provides you a mechanism to pay these inescapable debts on a reasonable timetable and protects you while you do so.


5. A key point of Chapter 13 is that it slashes your other debt obligations so that you can gain the needed monthly cash flow to better be able to afford your necessary home obligations. Amazingly, in many cases you can have more room in your budget to pay towards your home even than if you had filed a Chapter 7 case. That’s because if you owe certain kinds of debts that would not be written off in a Chapter 7 case—such as an ongoing vehicle loan, certain taxes, child or spousal support arrears, and most student loans—Chapter 13 could well allow you to pay less each month on those obligations, leaving more for the home.