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John Oliver’s Report On Why Chapter Ought to Be Used When Essential

Tv persona and part-time comic John Oliver not too long ago did an essential phase on chapter regulation.   The April 18, 2021 present coated the various typically misguided causes individuals keep away from submitting chapter.   It factors out why chapter needs to be used when crucial.

The present admirably highlighted the advantages of chapter, together with getting a contemporary begin out of your money owed.   It additionally said clearly that the social stigma related to submitting chapter is “fully misguided.”

Sadly, the present additionally makes many technically appropriate, however incomplete and deceptive statements which solid much more confusion on submitting chapter and what it may and can’t accomplish.

This may deal with among the extra essential statements in Oliver’s episode.

Sure Tax Money owed Can Be Discharged In Chapter

Oliver accurately factors out that not all money owed will be discharged in chapter.  Amongst these he states are “…most taxes”.

Whereas true, this might lead viewers to imagine that taxes can by no means be discharged, which isn’t true.

Sure taxes, resembling earnings taxes, are dischargeable in the event that they meet these necessities:

  • are over 3 years outdated from the date the returns are final because of be filed;
  • they have been assessed greater than 240 days previous to the chapter case submitting;
  • the returns have been filed greater than 2 years previous to submitting the case;
  • they aren’t the product of a  fraudulent “willful evasion” to pay.

[pullquote]See extra particulars on which taxes will be discharged in chapter[/pullquote]

California gross sales taxes will be discharged as properly in the event that they meet the above necessities.

Chapter 13 Chapter Can Be Very Useful

Nearly all of the chapter phase handled Chapter 13 chapter.   Oliver states that many are misdirected into Chapter 13 circumstances as an alternative of Chapter 7.  This can be true, however that doesn’t imply Chapter 13 will not be answer for a lot of.  There have been a number of issues with Oliver’s statements on this regard:

You Will Not Essentially Lose Your Car Or House In A Chapter 7 Case

Oliver stories that many individuals file Chapter 13 as a result of they may lose their dwelling or autos in a Chapter 7 case.   That is simply not true.  You might be allowed to maintain property in Chapter 7 if their values are lower than the quantity of exemptions allowed within the state which applies within the case.

The homestead exemption in California, for properties bought greater than 1215 days previous to the chapter submitting, is as much as $600,000 (relying on the median gross sales costs for the county).  So when you’ve got greater than $600,000 of fairness in your house, then yea, you could have to look right into a Chapter 13.  However you don’t mechanically lose your private home in Chapter 7.

Identical take care of autos.   In California, you’ve gotten between $3,325 and roughly $35,000 of exemptions out there for fairness in autos, relying on what different property you’ve gotten that must be exempted.  That is often not a problem in a Chapter 7, particularly in case your lawyer is aware of what they’re doing.

The overwhelming majority of Chapter 7 circumstances are “no asset” circumstances the place no property are bought by the Trustee.  [pullquote]Study Extra About Chapter 13 Chapter Choices[/pullquote]

Not True: “If You Miss A Cost In Chapter 13, You’re Out”

That is simply flat out incorrect.  In Chapter 13, you’ve gotten the flexibility to hunt to droop funds, or modify your plan to decrease them, relying on what’s inflicting you to overlook the fee.

Each case is completely different, and there are limits on what number of funds you may droop or decrease.

You will need to pay out no less than as a lot as your collectors would get in a Chapter 7 case.  So, the worth of your property and quantity of exemptions partially determines the minimal quantity which should be paid in a Chapter 13.   Your precise funds additionally components in to this (and the funds can change over time).

Not true: Individuals Usually File Chapter 13 Solely To Finance Legal professional’s Charges

That is additionally very deceptive.   Oliver refers to  a chapter research finished by Professors Bob Lawless and Jean Braucher, underneath the title of the “Client Chapter Venture.”  This research discovered that African People filed a disproportionate proportion of Chapter 13 circumstances vs. different races.  The explanations for this allegedly relate to abject racism and financial incapability to pay crucial attorneys charges previous to submitting the case (which might be crucial for a Chapter 7 submitting).   This can be true in some circumstances.  However there are lots of causes a Chapter 13  case could be filed as an alternative of Chapter 7 which don’t have anything to do with race or skill to pay lawyer’s charges.

Chapter 13 Permits Reorganization And Discharge Of Money owed When Debtor Is Not Eligible For Chapter 7

For one factor, there are earnings limits for qualifying for Chapter 7.   Debtors are required to “move” a Means Check and also can not have an excessive amount of precise disposable earnings of their present funds with a view to qualify.   Thus, when you’ve got an excessive amount of disposable earnings to do a Chapter 7, you would possibly choose to do a fee plan based mostly in your funds for 36 to 60 months in a Chapter 13.  This will allow you to repay your money owed for much lower than you would want to pay exterior of chapter.

Chapter 13 Permits You To Maintain All Belongings

Another excuse to file Chapter 13 is to guard non-exempt property from being bought by a Trustee in Chapter 7.  Chapter 13 permits the debtor to maintain all property so long as the quantity paid out throughout the fee plan is similar as collectors would obtain within the Chapter 7 case (if the property have been bought).

Chapter 13 Permits Removing Of Some Junior Mortgage Liens

Another excuse to file Chapter 13 is to take away (strip) junior mortgage liens on actual property, in circumstances the place the worth of the property is lower than the quantity owed to senior liens (i.e. first mortgage).

For These With Excessive Revenue, Chapter 13 Permits Cost of Money owed At Zero P.c Curiosity

Even for these debtors who’ve sufficient disposable earnings to pay all of their debt over time, Chapter 13 is usually a massive cash saver as a result of the curiosity accrual on the money owed stops the day the chapter case is filed.

So whereas Chapter 13 can be used to pay attorneys charges over time when the debtor can’t afford them in a Chapter 7 case, that’s not the primary motive to file Chapter 13 (and in my workplace, it’s virtually by no means the rationale).


In abstract, Oliver’s episode was an enormous step ahead in destroying the parable that chapter is one thing to be averted and the social stigma related to it’s fully misguided.

However to realize a fuller understanding of all that chapter can do, what its dangers and advantages are, and whether or not it’s best for you, it is best to schedule a session appointment with an skilled chapter lawyer in your space.


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