About Jill Michaux

Jill Michaux is a Kansas bankruptcy attorney. She can be found on Google+. She and her partner, Mark Neis, are Topeka's only board certified consumer bankruptcy law specialists.

Neis Michaux has moved!

Neis Michaux Bankruptcy Law Office has moved to a beautiful new office suite in the Southwest Plaza Office Building at 3601 SW 29th ST, Ste 117, Topeka, KS 66614-2015. Phone 785-354-1471.

City of Topeka utility disconnections resume

Shutoffs start June 30

PRESS RELEASE: The City of Topeka Utilities Department will resume utility disconnections next week. Utility accounts not in good standing may be subject to disconnect. We encourage customers wanting to make payment arrangements or having difficulty paying their bills to call us at 368-3111 to take advantage of the various options we have available.

Where to pay

Utility bills can be paid at City Express at 620 SE Madison, the customer service call center or at authorized US Bank locations. City Express is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Customer Service Call Center is open between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and is available to work with customers to help keep their balances due manageable during this time. Customers who need to pay their water bill in cash can do so at authorized US Bank locations at the drive through window. US Bank hours vary by location. Bills can also be paid by phone at 785-368-3111 or online at www.topeka.org/payonline.

Help for utility bills

Doorstep, Let’s Help, the Salvation Army and the City of Topeka created the Water Share Program to assist citizens in need with their COT water utility bill. Please contact one of the agencies directly to request assistance.

  • Doorstep 785-357-5341
  • Let’s Help 785-234-6208
  • Salvation Army 785-233-9648

The Utilities Refund Program (Franchise Fee Program) also offers assistance for utility bills. Please contact the Community Resources Council to apply 785-233-1365. For citizens looking for a way to help, you may go to www.topeka.org/utilities/watershare or call 785-368-3111. Donations may be set up as reoccurring monthly or you may select to make a one-time donation. The donation amount will be added to your next City of Topeka water bill.

6/29/2020 Press Release

Utilities shutoff banned temporarily for coronavirus

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly
Kansas Governor Laura Kelly

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly issued an executive order 20-05 banning utility and internet service shutoffs until May 1, 2020. The order applies to services not regulated by the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC).

For utilities regulated by the KCC, the commission extended the cold weather rule to April 15, 2020, which suspends shutoffs.

The City of Water has a moratorium on water shutoffs until April 15, 2020.

The cold weather rule requires customers contact the provider to make payment arrangements. It applies to electricity, gas and water utilities regulated by the Kansas Corporation Commission such as Evergy and OneGas Kansas Gas Service.

Cold Weather Rule–

How do I sign up?

If you can’t pay your entire bill, call your utility company to make pay arrangements:

  • Agree to pay 1/12 of the overdue amount of your bill, plus 1/12 of your current bill, all disconnection and reconnection fees plus any applicable deposit owed to the utility, and agree to pay the remainder in equal payments over the next 11 months; or
  • Negotiate a payment plan to pay the overdue amount off quicker than 12 months.

Apply for federal, state, local or special funds for which you are eligible.

If you are behind in a previous payment plan and cannot catch up, you need to make a new payment agreement with the utility.

If you have illegally used service, you must pay for the value of the illegally used service.

What will the utility company do?

Utilities must inform you of the Cold Weather Rule payment plan as well as other available payment plans. Remember, under the Cold Weather Rule, you always have the option of spreading your payment over a total of 12 months.

Utilities must send written notice to customers 10 days before disconnection, plus attempt a phone call or personal contact the day before.

Utilities must tell customers about agencies that have funds to help pay utility bills.

Can you be disconnected during the Cold Weather Rule?

A utility can’t disconnect you when the temperature is forecasted to drop below 35 degrees Fahrenheit within the following 48-hour period, except in certain circumstances.

To prevent disconnection when it is 35 degrees or above, or to be reconnected regardless of temperature, you must make pay arrangements with your utility.

A utility may start the final notification and disconnection process if there is a 48 hour forecast of temperatures above 35 degrees.

If the 48 hour forecast changes before the period ends and there is a forecast of below 35 degrees, the utility cannot disconnect until there is another Cold Weather Rule 48 hour forecast of temperatures above 35 degrees.

Can I File Bankruptcy Again?

You have filed a bankruptcy before and now you need help with your debts again.  You are wondering when you can file a bankruptcy again and if you can get a discharge of your debts in the new bankruptcy case.

2 – 4 – 6 – 8 Rule

Follow the 2 – 4 – 6 – 8 rule to determine if you can get a discharge in a subsequent bankruptcy.  You count from the filing date of the old petition to the filing date of the new petition.

  • 2 years between 13s –1328(f)(2)
  • 4 years between an old 7 and a new 13  –1328(f)(1)
  • 6 years between an old 13 and a new 7  –729, 727(a)(9)
  • 8 years between 7  –727(a)(8)

Thanks to my blogging colleague from Bankruptcy Law Network, attorney Andy Miofsky of Southern Ilinois, who coined the term 2 -4 -6 – 8 rule.

Photo credit: AttributionNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by DougitDesign.com / Doug Aghassi

US Trustee on Debtor Audits

Official U.S. Trustee Program Information Concerning Debtor Audits

“The United States Trustee Program is authorized to audit chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy cases filed by individuals. See Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, Pub. L. No. 109-8, § 603, 119 Stat. 23 (2005) and 28 U.S.C. § 586(f).” This content is the official information sheet provided to debtors verbatim.

“A bankruptcy case may be randomly selected for an audit. In addition, a case may be selected for an exception audit if the debtor’s income or expenditures deviate from the statistical norms for the district in which the case was filed.”

“The audit involves the verification of the income, expenses, and assets reported by a debtor in the bankruptcy schedules and statements. A debtor is required to timely provide additional information and records and to cooperate with the audit firm. The debtor has no additional cost for an audit, except for the cost of making copies of required documents for the audit. The information that a debtor provides in connection with a case is subject to examination by the Attorney General or his designee. “

“Additional disclosures of the information may be to contractors engaged to perform debtor audits, to a bankruptcy trustee when the information is needed to perform the trustee’s duties, to the appropriate federal, state, local, regulatory, tribal, or foreign law enforcement agency when the information indicates a violation or potential violation of law, or to a credit counseling or debtor education provider when the information is necessary to enable the provider to perform its duties. Other disclosures may be made for routine purposes.”

“For a discussion of the types of routine disclosures that may be made, you may consult the United States Trustee Program’s systems of records notice, UST-001, “Bankruptcy Case Files and Associated Records.” See 71 Fed. Reg. 59,818 et seq. (Oct. 11, 2006). A copy of the notice may be obtained, at the following link:
http://www.iustlce.gov/ust/eo/rules regulations/index.htm. “

“The audit firm will file a report containing the results of the audit. 28 U.S.C. § 586(f)(2)(A). If the audit firm finds material misstatements of income, expenses, or assets, the clerk of the bankruptcy court will notify the debtor’s creditors. 28 U.S.C. § 586(f)(2)(A). The report is not a legal determination, and the legal effect of the auditor’s finding of a material misstatement is a question for the court.”

“By statute, debtors are required to cooperate with the audit firm. See 11 U.S.C. § 521 (a)(3) and (4). Failure to cooperate with the audit firm, or failure to reasonably explain to the bankruptcy court any material misstatements contained in the audit firm’s report, may result in the dismissal of the case or the denial or revocation of discharge, and, possibly, referral of the matter to the United States Attorney for criminal investigation. 11 U.S.C. § 727 and 28 U.S.C. § 586(f)(2)(B).”

NDC Opens Debtor Portal

National Data Center Launches Enhanced Mobile Responsive Debtor Portal

Enables Debtors in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy to Understand Rights and Obligations, Stay Current on Repayment Plans 

LAFAYETTE, Calif. – November 12, 2019 – National Data Center (NDC) announced today the launch of its enhanced Debtor Portal, a cloud-based information resource for debtors involved in the Chapter 13 bankruptcy process. This Portal includes information about debtors’ payment schedules and related information.  

NDC is a non-profit organization with the mission of improving the success rate for debtors completing Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment process. NDC maintains a database of Chapter 13 bankruptcy information with the goal of streamlining the process for all parties involved:  debtors, debtors’ attorneys, trustees and creditors. 

“The enriched Debtor Portal user interface will put critical information at the fingertips of those going through the arduous process of Chapter 13 bankruptcy,” said David Shapiro, chief operating officer of NDC. “This free information will equip debtors with information that will help them to successfully complete their 3-5 year repayment plans.” 

Navigating Chapter 13 versus Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 refer to respective sections of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. In the Chapter 13 process, debtors create a plan to repay their debts to creditors over a 3-5 year period. Creditors must agree to these plans and a court-appointed trustee manages the implementation of the plan.

The key advantage of the Chapter 13 process to debtors is that if they meet the terms of the plan, they emerge retaining many more of their personal assets.  

In the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process, the court-appointed trustee collects and liquidates the debtor’s assets. Certain assets, such as the primary residence, are exempt from this process. While the process is much faster than Chapter 13, the debtor is left with many fewer personal assets. 

NDC Introduces Other New Solutions NDC has recently introduced other new solutions to streamline the Chapter 13 bankruptcy process. Earlier this year, it launched a Tablet that enables debtors to subscribe to the NDC at no cost. Chapter 13 trustees use these tablets during the early phase of the Chapter 13 process, such as the 341 meeting.

NDC has also created a tool that enables trustees to send annual reports to debtors electronically, a requirement of the Chapter 13 process. Previously, trustees created and mailed hard copy reports, a time-consuming and expensive process. 

About the National Data Center (NDC) NDC was founded in 2001 to streamline the Chapter 13 bankruptcy process by creating and maintaining a central repository for Chapter 13 bankruptcy information. Originally launched to support the needs of the approximately 200 Chapter 13 trustees throughout the U.S., NDC has expanded its mission to support the information needs of debtors, debtors’ attorneys and creditors in addition to trustees.

For more information, visit the NDC website or the organization’s LinkedIn page.

Media Contact 
Katie Everett
UPRAISE Marketing + PR for National Data Center
415.397.7600
ndc@upraisepr.com

What do I do when my credit is hacked?

Here is information from some trusted sources about what to do when your credit has been hacked.

Key Steps to Minimize Risk After Equifax Data Breach

Nearly every adult with a credit history is at risk of identity theft after the recent Equifax data breach. In this free article, the National Consumer Law Center offers key advice for consumers, with specific steps that can be taken to minimize the risks—freezes, thaws, fraud alerts, credit monitoring, and more. Read article

 

A Credit Freeze Won’t Help With All Equifax Breach Threats

There are other dangers you should know about. Here’s how to protect yourself. Read article from Consumer Reports.

 

Experian Site Can Give Anyone Your Credit Freeze PIN

Graphics Credit

Bankruptcy Means Test Gets Easier

More Kansans will pass the bankruptcy means test starting April 1, 2017. The income figures used in the bankruptcy formula are rising.

The means test formula uses median income data from U.S. census for Kansas. Telling us who can afford to pay back some of their general debts is the goal of the means test.

Kansas Median Income 4/1/2017

Here are the new median income figures for Kansas households starting April 1, 2017:

$47,591 one earner

$63,327 2 people

$72,981 3 people

$83,528 4 people

*add $8,400 for each individual in excess of 4

The figures rose for each family size.

Most individuals filing for bankruptcy must fill out a form listing their family size and income. About 75% of consumers pass the means test at this stage.

Families with higher incomes must fill out a second form. They subtract actual house and car payments from income then use allowances for living expense deductions.

Bankruptcy Means Test

You are not automatically disqualified. The means test decides what type of bankruptcy you may file. The means test decides how much disposable income is available to pay back general debts such as credit cards and medical bills. (The answer is none for most of our clients.)

The formula for counting income is not simple. Looking at pay stubs is just the start. Unfortunately, the means test is very complicated. We look backwards to calculate income and look forward to project expenses. Some numbers are actual, some are averages off a chart. There are all sorts of adjustments. It is not logical.

We have vast experience calculating means tests. We will do forms and the math for you.

For more information about the bankruptcy means test, you will find all the formulas and technical details on the website for the U.S. Trustee.

 

 

 

 

Means Test Eases April 1, 2016

 

 

On April 1, 2016, the income numbers used to calculate the bankruptcy means test will increase modestly in Kansas. Filing bankruptcy will be a little easier for debtors in all Kansas household sizes.

Here are the new numbers:

KANSAS 1 earned

$45,707

2 people

$60,634

3 people

$67,429

4 people

$80,735

Add $8,400 for each person in excess of 4.

Don’t fret if you make more money than these guidelines. You may still pass the means test. The consumer bankruptcy law specialists at Neis & Michaux, will figure this out and discuss your options with you.

Check out the Census Bureau Median Family Income By Family Size for all states and U.S. territories.

 

Photo Credit: Dean Hochman

Beware of Bankruptcy Fraudsters

Beware of bankruptcy fraudsters who are calling debtors and demanding money. They lie about who they are. They are using information from bankruptcy schedules to fake you into thinking they are legitimate. Do not fall for their scam. Say no and hang up the phone. Do not send money!

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Spoofing Your Bankruptcy Attorney Caller ID

The fraudsters are so slick they change their caller ID to make it look like your bankruptcy attorney is calling you. They demand you immediately pay money to a fake account.  This is a scam. Your bankruptcy lawyer does not do this. If you are uncertain who is really calling, hang up and call your bankruptcy lawyer. Do not wire money.

The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys issued a warning that “Under no circumstances would a bankruptcy attorney or staff member telephone a client and ask for a wire transfer immediately to satisfy a debt. Nor would the bankruptcy attorney and staff ever threaten arrest if a debt isn’t paid.”

“Bankruptcy filers in Vermont and Virginia reportedly have received calls. Vermont’s Attorney General says scammers use software to “spoof” the Caller ID system so the call appears to be originating from the phone line of the consumer’s bankruptcy attorney. Typically the calls come late in the evening or during non-business hours to make it difficult for intended victims to verify the call by contacting their attorney,” according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

Consumers receiving this kind of call are advised to hang up and contact their bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible. Do not give any personal or financial account information to the caller.

Read the article online.

 

Kansas Bankruptcy Means Test Changes November 1 – Mixed Message

Up for Some, Down for Others

Mixed Message

Median income figures used for the Kansas bankruptcy means test change again on November 1, 2015. There is a mixed message. Median income for one earner and a household of two goes down while the median income for families of three, four and more goes up.

Kansas Bankruptcy Means Test

Here are the new figures for bankruptcy cases filed in Kansas on or after November 1, 2015:

1 – $45,653 – down

2 – $60,562 – down

3 – $67,349 – up

4 – $80,639 – up

Add $8100 for each additional household member.

Bankruptcy law utilizes a funny way of counting annual income. Don’t worry about doing the calculation on your own. The attorneys at Neis & Michaux are experienced at means test math and will do the figuring for you.

We’ll need from you seven months of pay stubs or a printout for that time period and all other income for seven months. If you have had business income, we’ll need a month by month list of income and expenses to calculate your net income.

The formulas are designed so that 75% of people will be under median income and pass the Kansas bankruptcy means test at the first stage.

What If My Income Is Over Median?

Don’t fret if you think your income exceeds the median income figures in the chart above. It doesn’t mean you aren’t eligible for bankruptcy. It means a long form has to be filled out and various allowances and expenses deducted to learn your disposable income and your ability to pay. We’ll help you with this complicated form too.

We’ve learned from 10 years of experience since the means test was enacted in 2005 that most of our clients pass the Kansas bankruptcy means test. Even those who are required to pay back debt in a chapter 13 bankruptcy pay far less than what they owed before filing for bankruptcy. Help for out of control debt is available.

 

Photo Credit: Rich Anderson

 

Tax Transcripts Online Service Closed

UPDATE: 5/27/2015. IRS has closed this service due to theft of 104,000 accounts. The IRS has issued a IRS statement about this breach of security.
The IRS announced a new service today that allows direct download of at transcripts called Get Transcript-http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript

Means Test Numbers Adjusted

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The formula that is used to measure income for bankruptcy purposes changed again. The numbers were adjusted May 1 and May 15, 2015.

Most Kansans fared better on the means test after the new numbers went into effect. In theory, the means test determines the type of bankruptcy a debtor file and now much must be paid back to creditors, if any.

New median income figures for Kansas for cases filed on or after May 1, 2015:

one $45,980 (from $45,246)

two $60,577 (from $59,610)

three $66,065 (from $65,010)

four $76,017 (from $74,804)

add $8100 for each family member over 4.

The living expense standards for household above the median income also changed.

 

Graphic Credit: Bill Brooks

New Means Test Numbers November 1, 2014

14473050604_ab135d149f_z up and down
New means test numbers go into effect for bankruptcy cases filed on or after November 1, 2014. Median income numbers go up for households of one, two and four persons. Oddly, the number goes down for households of three. For more information, see the U.S. Trustee website.

 

1 – $45,246 (from $44,434)

2 – $59,610 (from $58,344)

3 – $65,010 (from $66,352)

4 – $74,804 (from $73,514)

add $8100 for each additional household member

 

 

Photo Credit: Thomas8087

Bankruptcy Might Save Your Life

life ringFiling for bankruptcy might save your life. A new study finds that bankruptcy filers make more money and live longer than those who were denied such protection. http://for.tn/1u6bd1z

Bankruptcy Fee Increases

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The Judicial Conference of the United States has approved several bankruptcy fee increases starting on June 1, 2014. The new  fees will be:

Chapter 7:  $335 (up from $ 306)

Chapter 9: $1,717 (up from $1,213)

Chapter 11: $1,717 (up from $1,213)

Chapter 12:  $275 (up from $246)

Chapter 13:  $310 (up from $281)

Chapter 15: $1,717 (up from $1,213)

The last increase in filing fees was on November 1, 2011.

See Bankruptcy Court Miscellaneous Fee Schedule

Photo Credit: Pictures of Money