More Americans Using Tax Refunds to Pay for Bankruptcy

With tax season upon us, many New Jersey residents are trying to decide what to do with that much-anticipated tax refund check.  Increasingly, with inflation on the rise, people in New Jersey and throughout the country are using their refunds to file for bankruptcy.

The 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act raised the average cost of filing for bankruptcy by about $500. In addition, it required filers to pay to participate in credit counseling.

The Act also created a bankruptcy means test that determines an individual’s qualifications for filing for bankruptcy and if they can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which discharges many debts in full.  OR whether they must go for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which requires at least partial repayment of debts. The Act also increased the waiting period from when an individual last filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy to when they may file again to eight years.

This Act was designed to root out unnecessary or spurious bankruptcies. However, many financial and legal experts were worried that it simply made it harder for honest consumers to get the debt relief they need.

A study shows these fears may be grounded in fact. It found that total bankruptcies tend to go up when a large percentage of Americans receive tax refund checks. The authors say this happens because cash-strapped debtors often have no other way to pay the filing fee.

The study’s leader, Dr. Tal Gross, a professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health explained the situation as follows: “Bankruptcy can be a Catch-22 when a substantial amount of money is needed to get out of a situation defined by having little or no money. If it weren’t for these rebate checks, many families would have to postpone filing for bankruptcy for months until they save enough money.”

In the wake of the study, Dr. Gross concluded lower barriers to bankruptcy could benefit both individual consumers and the American economy as a whole. When done right, he said, bankruptcy allows individuals to get back on their feet and participate in consumer spending, which, in turn, provides a much needed economic stimulus.

If you are in debt and are seeking financial relief, consider using your tax refund check to pay for your bankruptcy filing. At the Law Office of Joel R. Spivack, we focus our law firm on helping people get out of debt and get a fresh start.  We offer a no obligation, FREE consultation to bankruptcy clients.  Contact us either online or call us directly at 856-488-1200.

We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.



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Attorney Joel R. Spivack is an experienced bankruptcy and residential real estate transactions lawyer in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Clients come to us for legal services, but what we really provide is peace of mind. For more than 30 years, Attorney Spivack has helped people make wise, informed decisions about bankruptcy filings, debt relief options and residential real estate transactions.
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