Do you want your bankruptcy creditors to see all the personal information in your tax return? That is exactly what you allow to happen if you do not provide your most recently filed tax return to your bankruptcy attorney.
Filing bankruptcy in the BAPCPA era is about giving your bankruptcy lawyer mountains of paper. That is a big reason Balena Law Firm, LLC is paperless. After your pay advices and bank statements, the next most important documents I need are your tax returns.
One provision of the law is that you must provide your chapter 7 trustee a copy of your most recently filed tax return no later than 7 days prior to the meeting of creditors. So what’s the big deal? In Cleveland that is about 5 weeks after the petition is filed. From a mathematical perspective that means to meet the minimum requirement you can provide the tax return to your trustee anywhere from day one to day 35 after you file your bankruptcy case.
There is, however, someone else who can access your most recently filed tax return. That someone consists of each and every one of your creditors. This means everyone you list in your schedules you owe money. Why would they want to see your tax return? I can’t answer that question. Maybe your representatives in Congress can, they put it into the law.
How do they go about obtaining it? Once the bankruptcy case is filed all they have to do is to request it. They can request it until the deadline to provide it passes. Is this the 5-week deadline to provide it to the chapter 7 case trustee? It could be, but I won’t wait that long.
The time limit within you must comply with a creditor request to provide a copy of your most recently filed tax return lapses the moment you provide a copy of the return to your case trustee. After that moment it’s too late for the creditor to request it.
The standard of practice at Balena Law Firm. LLC is to not file your bankruptcy case until I have all the documents necessary to file your case. This includes your past tax returns.
The moment I have your bankruptcy case number and trustee’s name I email the required return. Unless your creditor is a mind reader, and can predict when you will file the case there will never be time for them to request a copy of your most recently filed tax return. Some things aren’t their business.