Can Bankruptcy Discharge a Tax Liability?

Over the years, our firm has helped numerous clients with tax debts via an Offer inCompromise, Abatement of Penalties, or favorable Installment Agreements. We have also inthe right circumstances helped by filing bankruptcy for clients to eliminate (or greatly reduce)their tax obligations. Yes, some taxes can be discharged in bankruptcy.

Income taxes can be discharged if they meet a four part test.

The first test is: if the tax years are older than three years (for example 2006, whichwas due without an extension on April 15, 2007), you add three years to that date arriving toApril 15, 2010, therefore 2006 and earlier years could be discharged, provided that there was noextension. If, however, there was an extension, then October 16, 2010, would be the operativedate, provided the next three tests are met.

Second test: The returns must be filed at least two years before the bankruptcy filingdate. Fairly straight forward and simple test, however, if the IRS were to prepare an SFR, thenthat would prevent this test from becoming operative for the client. Assuming that no SFR wasprepared and the returns were filed more than two years before, then the year (or years’) liabilitycould be discharged, provided the next two tests are met.

Third test: The bankruptcy is filed at lest 240 days after IRS assessment has been made.This simple step (but very critical), can be verified by reviewing IRS transcripts in a pre-filingdue diligence step required to ensure the taxpayer’s taxes can be discharged.

Fourth test: The last test is not as objective as the above three tests. The final test boilsdown to this question: “was the liability accrued as a pattern of fraud?” Again, like the firstthree tests, this test requires a thorough understanding of the client’s case, as well as being ableto argue the merits of why the liability accrued.

The above four-part test is for both federal and state income taxes. Unfortunatelyemployment tax (trust fund) and sales and use tax are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

Our firm has helped many of our clients to meet the four-part test requirements and toultimately successfully have both their federal and state income taxes discharged in bankruptcy.

If you would like more details about the helping your clients in IRS or IDOR collectionmatters, please do not hesitate to call our office. Our office has been successful in helpingtaxpayers with IRS collection problems for over 19 years. Please call our office and ask forBrittany at (847) 705-7555 to talk to one of our tax attorneys and find out how we can help yourclient in front of IRS collections.