Law Office of Robert L. Firth
If You Owe Both 2018 and Earlier Income Taxes
Do you owe income taxes for the 2018 tax year AND already owe for one or more tax years? Chapter 13 may be an especially good tool for you.
Last week we got into a big advantage of filing a Chapter 13 “adjustment of debts” case in early 2019. It enables you to include 2018 income taxes into your Chapter 13 payment plan. That would:
- Save you money on payment of your 2018 tax
- Give you invaluable financial flexibility
- Stop any present and future tax collections and the recording and enforcement of a tax lien on the 2018 tax
So Chapter 13 is a helpful tool for dealing with taxes you owe for the 2018 tax year. Sometimes it’s even absolutely indispensable—it solves a debt dilemma that appeared otherwise insolvable.
When You Also Owe Income Taxes for Earlier Years
However, Chapter 13 is a particularly powerful tool if you owe not just for 2018 but for other tax years (or year) as well. This is true wherever you stand with the earlier tax debt, whether:
- the IRS/state is now aggressively collecting the taxes
- you are currently paying them through an agreed monthly payment plan
- you haven’t yet filed the tax returns for the prior years
1. Dealing with Aggressive Collection of Earlier Tax Debt
Is the IRS/state is currently collecting the earlier taxes through garnishment or some other collection procedures? Then Chapter 13 would very likely greatly help you with both those earlier taxes and the new 2018 one.
The minute your bankruptcy lawyer files the Chapter 13 case for you all the aggressive tax collection actions will stop. That is the power of bankruptcy’s “automatic stay.” You will have 3 to 5 years to deal with ALL of your debts through a payment plan. This includes all your income taxes. The Chapter 13 payment plan will be based on what you can genuinely afford to pay. You may well not need to pay some of your earlier taxes. You will likely not need to pay any more accruing interest and penalties on ANY of the income taxes. You will not need to worry about tax collections throughout the time you’re in the case—including the recording of tax liens. At the completion of your case you will owe no income taxes. Indeed, you will be debt-free altogether, except for voluntary debt such as a home mortgage.
2. In a Monthly Payment Plan
Are you already in a payment plan with the IRS/state for the prior tax debt? If so, finding out that you owe even more for 2018 can be really frightening.
Those monthly installment payments likely contributed to the fact that you owe for 2018. You know that you have to keep up those monthly payments perfectly to avoid the IRS/state from starting or restarting collection actions against you. So you do everything you can to pay them, including not having enough withheld from your paycheck or not paying enough in quarterly estimated payments for the next year’s taxes. As a result you now owe another bunch of taxes for 2018.
Furthermore, you know that you’ll violate your installment agreement if you don’t stay current in future income taxes. As stated in IRS Form 9465, the Installment Agreement Request form, “you agree to meet all your future tax obligations.” So you know you’ll be in trouble when the IRS/state finds out that you owe for 2018.
Chapter 13 avoids this trouble. As mentioned above, the “automatic stay” immediately protects you from the IRS/state. Your monthly installment plan is cancelled right away. You make no further payments on it once you file you file your Chapter 13 case. All your prior income taxes AND your 2018 one(s) are handled through your Chapter 13 payment plan. You get the financial advantages and the peace-of-mind referenced in the above section. When you successfully complete your Chapter 13 case you’ll be totally free of any tax debt.
3. Not Filing Tax Returns
You may be in the scary situation that you can’t pay your taxes so you don’t file your tax returns.
Sometimes this happens because the tax authorities are already actively trying to collect on earlier tax debt. You can’t pay the earlier debt so you figure what’s the use of adding to the amount you already can’t pay.
Or you may be in an installment payment plan and you don’t want to violate it by admitting you owe more for 2018. You know you’ll be in violation of it upon filing the 2018 tax return, so you simply don’t do so.
Or finally, you haven’t filed a tax return for several years, and you know or guess you owe a lot. Now it’s time to file for 2018 and you figure you’ll owe again. You think, why file for 2018 and bring the wrath of the tax authorities onto yourself?
But you know that not filing your 2018 tax return (and any prior unfiled ones) only delays the inevitable. Because of the advantages listed in our last blog post and in the above two sections, Chapter 13 may well be the tool you need.
You’re in a vicious cycle in which you may well be falling further behind instead of getting ahead.
Chapter 13 can likely enable you to break out of that cycle. Not only do you deal with all of your taxes and other debts in a single package. Not only to you often not have to pay all of your taxes. The vicious cycle is broken because your Chapter 13 budget will also address your 2019 and future income tax situation. It does so because your new budget will include enough withholding or quarterly estimated payments so you can stay current for 2019 and thereafter. Again, you should end the Chapter 13 plan being completely tax-debt free.