Law Office of Robert L. Firth
Save Your Sole Proprietorship Business through Chapter 13
Chapter 13 can greatly reduce both your business and personal monthly debt service while you continued to run your business.
“Adjustment of Debts of an Individual with Regular Income”
That is the formal name given to Chapter 13 of Title 11—the U. S. Bankruptcy Code.
As the word “Individual” indicates, you must be a person to file a Chapter 13 case—a corporation cannot file one. (This also applies to a limited liability company (LLC) and other similar types of legal business entities.)
But if you have a business which you operate as a sole proprietorship, you and your business can file a Chapter 13 case together.
To explain, if you (or you and your spouse) own a business that is operated in your own name, then, unlike a corporation that is treated as a legal “person” separate from you, your sole proprietorship business and you are treated as a single legal entity.
The assets of your sole proprietor business are simply considered your personal assets. The debts of your business are simply your debts.
This is true even if your business is operated not under your own individual name(s) but rather under an assumed business name, and you are doing business under that name. You are likely operating as a sole proprietorship if you have not gone through the formalities of creating a corporation, a limited liability company, or other such legal business entity.
Chapter 13 Help Your Sole Proprietorship Business in 5 Major Ways
1) Chapter 13 addresses both your business and personal financial problems in one legal and practical package. You are personally liable on all debts of your sole proprietorship business, as well as, of course, your individual debts. So as long as you qualify for Chapter 13 otherwise, you can simultaneously resolve both your business and personal debts.
2) Chapter 13 stops both business and personal creditors from suing you, placing liens on your assets, and shutting down your business. The “automatic stay” imposed by the filing of your Chapter 13 case stops ALL your creditors from pursuing you, including both business and personal ones. Your personal creditors are prevented from hurting your business, and your business creditors are prevented from taking your personal assets.
3) Chapter 13 enables you to keep whatever business assets you need to keep operating. If you do not file a bankruptcy, and one of either your business or personal creditors gets a judgment against you, it could try to seize your business assets. Also, if you filed a Chapter 7 “straight bankruptcy,” under many circumstances you could not continue operating your business. However, Chapter 13 is specifically designed to allow you to keep what you need and continue operating your business.
4) Chapter 13 gives you the power to retain crucial business and personal collateral. If you are behind either on business or personal loans which are secured by either business or personal collateral, Chapter 13 will stop the repossession of the collateral. Then it will give you ways to keep collateral that you would otherwise lose, and often under much better payment terms. You will often be given the opportunity to lower the monthly payments, or at least be given more time to catch up on your late payments. In certain limited situations—such as some judgment liens and some second mortgages on your home—the liens can be gotten rid of altogether.
5) Chapter 13 can solve both business and personal tax problems. Business owners in financial trouble are generally also in tax trouble. Chapter 13 gives business owners time to pay tax debts that cannot be discharged (permanently written off), all the while keeping the IRS and other tax agencies at bay. Chapter 13 usually stops the accruing of additional penalties and interest, enabling the tax to be paid off much more quickly. Tax liens can be handled especially well. At the end of a successful Chapter 13 case you will have either discharged or paid off all your tax debts, and will be tax-free.