A Means test is an eligibility test that is carried to assess the eligibility for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, means test is not one of the simplest tests to carry out, which creates possibilities of multiple errors. Some of them could be avoided and the eligibility for Chapter 7 can be made much easier. To learn more about Chapter 7, eligibility, alternatives, and best attorneys in your town to help you deal with this financial crisis, log on to Recovery Law Group . Some quite common avoidable errors can be listed as follows-
Do you really need to take the Means test?
It is important to first assess, whether doing all the calculation and adjustment for ‘means test’ is really worth or not. There are two situations wherein the means test becomes unnecessary. In the first scenario, your income is way below that state median and there is no need to go ahead with the means test as it automatically qualifies you for Chapter 7. The second scenario is when your income is too high and taking some standard expense deductions based on state rule book would not help. Under both scenarios, you would not want to make unnecessary calculations with respect to the means test as you either directly qualify or disqualify.
Are you filing a business bankruptcy?
In bankruptcy terms, there are two types one is business and the other is a consumer. Consumer bankruptcy refers to the loan taken for personal purposes and not intended to be used for business purposes. If you have a combination of loans which is business as well as personal, the percentage of loans will determine whether it is a consumer or a business bankruptcy. If the business loans exceed the personal loans by some margin, it can be referred to as a business bankruptcy. If the personal loans are higher or if the business loans are marginally higher than personal loans, it will be referred to as a consumer bankruptcy.
It is essential to understand this distinction as there is no need for a ‘means or median’ test if it is a business bankruptcy. Many people do the ‘means test’ with their business transactions and struggle while that might not be required at all. Similarly, people with some business loan skip means test only to realize, they might be subject to it.
Determining the household size
Coming up with the household size for comparing state median or for calculating some of the expenses for ‘means test’ can be a challenge. It is not as easy as it looks. While some courts allow for all individuals in the household unless and until their income is accounted for and their part or full responsibility of the household members on the bankruptcy filer. On the other hand, some courts allow for a household count of people who are dependent on the bankruptcy filer financially. Arriving at the right household size can prove challenging sometimes. It is always a better approach to opt for a household count of people who are directly financially dependent on the filer.
Income mismatch and duplication
The income to be reported in the court with the bankruptcy filing application has to be used in the same capacity for the means test. People tend to use their recent monthly income instead of the average six months of income from the bankruptcy filed date. It can also happen that a married filing joint couple might end up including a spouse’s income even if the spouse isn’t filing for bankruptcy in his/her individual capacity. This can lead to an unnecessary hike in income. Similarly, accounting for double expenses when the spouse isn’t filing for bankruptcy is also not acceptable by the court.
There can be scenarios that child support is paid out in the form of food items, clothing, and other essentials of the child. Since the child support is not being received as cash, it may not be reported as income. If you are a bankruptcy filer, paying for child support, it can be included as an expense.
Mortgage payments and Standard Housing Deduction
The common practice is to include both standard housing deduction and mortgage payment (as an adjustment in the following line). However, under Chapter 7, the assets might be liquidated. Hence, if you are giving away your home, you are not allowed to use mortgage payments in the expense column. You shall only be eligible for the standard housing deduction. The approach may vary based on courts and it is best to have a consultation with the attorney regarding this.
Allowable and non-allowable deductions
Determining what deductions are allowable and not allowable depend on different circumstances. It has often come to notice of people missing out on certain allowable deductions and opting for deductions which they aren’t eligible for. This can be best addressed by reaching out to an experienced bankruptcy attorney. The number is 888-297-6203. Don’t wait, dial in right now!