Bankruptcy Means Test Meaner as Family Incomes Drop

As the economy worsens, unemployment rises and family incomes are dropping, getting bankruptcy help gets a little tougher.

The bankruptcy income guidelines go down a few hundred dollars for Kansas cases filed on or after March 15, 2010.  While this change probably won’t disqualify many debtors, the downward trend is disturbing and more evidence the means test is a mean test.

Here are the new Kansas median income figures by family size used for part one of a two part-test to determine bankruptcy eligibility:

  1. $41,210
  2. $57,561
  3. $63,212
  4. $72,352

But do not despair if your income is higher than these numbers and you need bankruptcy help.  You are not automatically disqualified. These numbers are used in part one of the means test to figure out whether Kansans may get rid of their general debts such as credit cards and medical bills in bankruptcy.

You have a second chance to pass the bankruptcy means test [Read more...]

Surrendered Collateral Doesn’t Count on Bankruptcy Means Test?

22C EXPENSE NOT PERMITTED ON SURRENDERED COLLATERAL
In re Miller, Case No. 07-22927
December 2008, Judge Somers
This decision ties to the concepts enunciated in the various Lanning decisions, i.e., to
what extent may post petition changes in circumstances be considered in determining
what is to be paid by an above the line debtor.  Digest by Jan Hamilton, Trustee.

Deviation from Bankruptcy Means Test for Expenses, Too

LANNING EXTENDED TO EXPENSE SIDE
In re Melvin, Case No. 07-22352
December 2008 Judge Somers

Court extended the Lanning analysis and found there was no binding precedent on the issue of whether actual of 22C expenses were mandated and found that 22C expenses may be deviated from also. This is consistent with dicta in Lanning, and Judge Nugent in In Re Hoss, 08-10365, and In re Arroyo, No. 07-12779. It may also be inconsistent with Judge Karlin in the bankruptcy court decision in Lanning.

Lanning has been appealed by the bankruptcy trustee and is currently pending in the U.S. Supreme Court.  Oral argument is expected in March 2010.

Digest by:  Jan Hamilton, Trustee

Cram Down Value Used for Means Test in Wichita Bankruptcies

A DEBTOR MUST USE THE STRIPPED/CRAMMED DOWN AMOUNT FOR
PURPOSES OF CURRENT MONTHLY INCOME (CMI) ON LINE 47 OF B22C
In re Hoss, Case No. 08-10365
In re Arroyo, Case No. 07-12779
August 2008, Judge Nugent
In above median income (AMI) cases, debtors sought to deduct contract payments, rather than the stripped off/crammed down amounts. The Court sustained the Chapter 13 Trustee’s objection to confirmation. This is a good analysis of the status of the law, as of the date of the issuance of the opinion. Judge Nugent applied the reasoning of Lanning, but on the expense side, rather than the income side, of the equation. He also disagreed with Judge Karlin’s decision in Allen, which would have reached an opposite result.

My Wife Didn't File Bankruptcy, Can I Deduct Her Car Payment on My Means Test?

NON DEBTOR EXPENSES NOT ALLOWED ON B22C
In re Shahan, Case No. 06-11638
April 2007, Judge Nugent

Above median debtor filed 13; wife did not. Trustee objected to confirmation on basis of various B22C deductions. Debtor was allowed to take a marital deduction on Line 19 from his paycheck, which represented mandatory withholdings from her paycheck and, as such, was not dedicated to household expenses. Debtor sought to deduct future payments on secured debts for wife’s debts on Line 47. Since these were not debtor’s expenses, they were not allowed. Additionally, debtor sought to deduct $415.00 on line 59. This includes wife’s monthly recreational expenses, loan repayment to family, tax prep fees and $200.00 per month to help an adult daughter. These are to be actual expenses. None of these qualified, except for the tax preparation expenses as analyzed by the Court.

Digest By:  Jan Hamilton, Trustee

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