Sunday, December 18, 2011

Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Arizona: Short sales and discharging taxes

I am a bankruptcy attorney in Arizona ($995/Chapter 7) and two of the most common questions clients ask me about are what their options are on their house and can they discharge past due taxes. Most people want to keep their home, and filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Arizona will allow them to as long as they don't have more than $150,000 equity in their home. This is not a problem since I rarely encounter any clients who have equity in their home; most people are underwater do to the economy. However they must be able to afford their mortgage payments. Many people have $1500 or $2000/mth mortgage payments that are difficult to afford right now. The federal government has set up a program to permit people to lower their payments, called the Home Affordability Mortgage Program (HAMP). Representative David Schweikert has created an office, the first of its kind, to help people work with their lenders to set up HAMP, since some banks have been difficult about negotiating this program with homeowners.

Homeowners who are unsuccessful obtaining this program frequently consider short selling, also known as strategic default. It allows a homeowner to sell their home back to the bank without owing any of the difference, walking away free and clear. It is not available in all states, only in "non-recourse" states like Arizona. Short selling affects your credit much less than foreclosing. It has become so prevalent in this economy that there is now a book available for $20 for download on how to short sell your house. Or you may want to find a real estate agent who specializes in short selling, like my friend Will Wright of Eagle First Realty ( or 480-216-6882). Short selling is not easy so it is best to study up extensively on it first or go with a professional like Will.

Most taxes are not dischargeable in bankruptcy, and the laws vary state by state. In Arizona, past due income taxes older than three years are dischargeable. For example, if you owe taxes on work from 2008, and those taxes were due on April 15, 2009, you would be eligible to file for bankruptcy and have those discharged on April 16, 2012 or later. There are a few exceptions; if the tax debt was "assessed" or there was an Offer of Compromise, that adds a 240-day period of dischargeability. Or if you obtained an extension.

The Alexander Bankruptcy Law Firm provides low low cost Chapter 7 and 13 personal bankruptcies. $995 Chapter 7 or $2500 Chapter 13 bankruptcies plus court filing fee. Free consultation with a compassionate attorney who will handle your case personally. Call 24/7, available to meet with you around your schedule. 602-910-6812. Conveniently located in Central Phoenix along the Camelback corridor.

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