Debtors will get to keep one year of earned income tax credits when filing bankruptcy in Kansas. A new law went into effect April 14, 2011, granting the exemption. This change in the law will prevent bankruptcy trustees from taking the portion of income tax refunds that is EITC, a valuable benefit for low to moderate income, working people, most of whom have minor children at home.
SENATE BILL No. 12
AN ACT concerning civil procedure; relating to bankruptcy;
exempt property; earned income tax credit.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Kansas:
Section 1. An individual debtor under the federal bankruptcy
reform act of 1978 (11 U.S.C. §101 et seq.), may exempt the debtor’s
right to receive tax credits allowed pursuant to section 32 of the
federal internal revenue code of 1986, as amended, and K.S.A. 2010
Supp. 79-32,205, and amendments thereto. An exemption pursuant
to this section shall not exceed the maximum credit allowed to the
debtor under section 32 of the federal internal revenue code of
1986, as amended, for one tax year. Nothing in this section shall be
construed to limit the right of offset, attachment or other process
with respect to the earned income tax credit for the payment of
child support or spousal maintenance.
Sec. 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after
its publication in the Kansas register.
(Published in the Kansas Register April 14, 2011.)
Prior to the enactment of Senate Bill 12, bankruptcy trustees took earned income tax credits and tax refunds for their fees and for creditors’ claims. Tax refunds are the most commonly seized assets in Kansas consumer bankruptcy cases. The amount forfeited by individual debtors was substantial, but the amount distributed to creditors is relatively low, often 1 or 2% of their claims.
The law limits the bankruptcy exemption to the right to receive one year of earned income tax credits and does not prevent government offset of the credits for child support collection. Bankruptcy trustees will still be able to take tax refunds not attributable to earned income tax creditors from debtors.
The Earned Income Tax Credit or the EITC is a refundable federal and Kansas income tax credit for low to moderate income working individuals and families. According to the Internal Revenue Service, Congress originally approved the tax credit legislation in 1975 in part to offset the burden of social security taxes and to provide an incentive to work. When EITC exceeds the amount of taxes owed, it results in a tax refund to those who claim and qualify for the credit. To qualify, taxpayers must meet certain requirements and file a tax return, even if they do not have a filing requirement.
Our thanks goes to Kansas Senator John Vratil, R-Leawood, for sponsoring SB12. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate and nearly so (118 to 5) in the House of Representatives. Testifying in favor of the bill were Marilyn M. Harp, executive director of Kansas Legal Services, and attorneys John Hooge of Lawrence, Paul Post of Topeka and Kansas Bankruptcy Information blogger Jill Michaux of Topeka.