Bankruptcy Copy Fees Up 25%

Fees to download bankruptcy documents from the federal court increased 25% to 10 cents per page today. The fee is capped at $2.40 per document, there is no fee for access to court opinions, and fees are waived for users who incur less than $15 of use in a quarterly billing cycle.

All documents with the bankruptcy court are filed electronically using the Court’s case management electronic case filing (CMECF) computer sosftware. As each document is uploaded to the Court, it is docketed and an index of documents and events is created for the case. A copy of the filing is automatically sent to all the attorneys involved in the case and to interested parties who have requested notice. Individual documents can be downloaded by clicking on the hyperlinks in the case dockets.

You must have an account with the federal judicial system’s Public Access to Court Electronic Documents (PACER) system to download documents. You will log in to PACER to view the document or docket report links in the emails you receive and the fees will be assessed to your account.

Some courts allow PACER users to monitor cases by email via an RSS feed.  To learn if your bankruptcy court has implemented RSS, go to the PACER website and click on the RSS feed information. Kansas bankruptcy court does not yet offerRSS service.

 

Get Your Federal Tax Return Done for Free

You need your tax returns to file for bankruptcy.  But when you are having bill problems, how do you find the money to get them prepared?  Here is how to get your federal income tax return done free, according to a press release from the Internal Revenue Service.

Do Your Federal Taxes for Free with IRS Free File

WASHINGTON — IRS Free File, which has been making taxes a little less taxing for a decade, opens today, Jan. 17. More than 33 million returns have been filed through Free File since its debut.

Everyone can use Free File, either the brand-name software offered by IRS’ commercial partners or the online fillable forms. Individuals or families with 2011 adjusted gross incomes of $57,000 or less can use Free File software. Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms, has no income restrictions.

“Free File can save you time and money. You can prepare and e-file your tax return at no charge. And, the software helps you find the tax breaks you are due,” said Diane Fox, director, Free File program. “Free File helps make taxes less taxing.”

Free File software is a product of a public-private partnership between the IRS and the Free File Alliance, LLC. The Alliance is a consortium of approximately 20 tax software providers who make versions of their free-file products available exclusively at www.irs.gov/freefile.

All Free File members must meet certain security requirements and use the latest in encryption technology to protect taxpayers’ information. Seventy percent of taxpayers – 100 million people – are eligible for Free File software. It’s perfect for first-time filers, families looking to save money or older Americans adept at using the Internet.

People with an adjusted gross income of $57,000 or less are eligible for at least one software product if not more. Each of the Free File software providers sets their own eligibility requirements, usually based on qualifiers such as income, state residency, age or military status.

The easiest way to locate a software provider is to use the online “get help” tool atwww.irs.gov/freefile that, with a little of a taxpayer’s information such as income, age and state residency, can identify matching free-file products. Or, taxpayers can review all providers and their offers. Some software providers also offer state income tax preparation for free or for a fee.

Also, the IRS is working with select volunteer tax sites such as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly. There are 200 locations nationwide that have set up Free File kiosks where taxpayers can use computers to prepare their own returns with Free File.

For taxpayers whose incomes are more than $57,000, there’s Free File Fillable Forms, available only at the IRS website. This program is best for taxpayers experienced in preparing their own federal tax returns. For people who prefer doing their taxes the old fashioned way – by paper – this is an electronic alternative.

Free File Fillable Forms performs some math calculations and provides links to some IRS publications. It does not use the familiar question-and-answer format used by software. Taxpayers can e-file the forms for free.  It also does not support state income tax returns.

Taxpayers must access the free-file products through IRS.gov or authorized kiosks to avoid any charges for preparing or e-filing a federal tax return.

Once taxpayers have selected a Free File software product, they will be directed away from IRS.gov to the partner’s site to prepare and e-file their returns. The IRS does not retain any personal information from the taxpayers.

The IRS also encourages businesses, state and local governments, charities and churches to inform their employees, clients and customers about Free File.

 

Image Credit:  This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Arpingstone.

Bankruptcy Court Costs Going Up

Miscellaneous fees in the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts increase again on November 1, 2011.  The filing fee to initiate a bankruptcy case is not changing.

Debtors will have to pay $30 to amend schedule d, e, f, g, or h, up from $26.  Creditors will have to pay $176 to file a motion to lift the automatic stay, up from $150.

Other fee increases:

  • Certification $11 from $9
  • Exemplication $21 from $18
  • Record Search $30 from $26
  • Document Filing / Indexing $46 from $39
  • Title 11 Administrative Fee $46 from $39
  • Record Retrieval $53 from $45
  • Returned Check $53 from $45
  • Notice of Appeal $293 from $250

Statutory authority for the bankruptcy court fees is 28 U.S.C. 1930.

Image Credit: AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by RangerRick

Also published in Bankruptcy Law Network.

Court Stops Mailing Claim Forms to Creditors

To save money, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Kansas has stopped sending blank proof of claim forms to all creditors with notice of every new bankruptcy case filing.

Proof of Claim forms can be obtained at the U.S. Courts web site, the Kansas bankruptcy court website or at any bankruptcy clerk’s office.

 

Photo Credit:  balance by William Hoffman

 

Dodgers Good Company in Bankruptcy

Last week, I wrote about being in good company with many famous people when you file bankruptcy. Well, in comes the news today that the Los Angeles Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection. That’s darn good company if you ask me. There is no need to feel guilty.

The Dodgers bankruptcy filing comes in the wake of a bitter divorce between the owners, Frank and Jamie McCourt, which makes another point: bankruptcy and divorce go hand in hand.

Photo Credit: Attribution Some rights reserved by ewen and donabel

How to Get Your Credit Reports

You are entitled to a free credit file disclosure (credit report) once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  We recommend you monitor your credit by pulling one of the three reports every four months.

You may request your free credit reports online at www.annualcreditreport.com. You will be asked questions to authenticate your identity such as creditor names, loan payment amounts, employers and addresses. Please work through the screens, then view and print out all three credit reports. You’ll need lots of paper and ink.

Other Internet sites advertising “free” credit reports are not free. If you have to give a credit card number or sign up for a monthly credit monitoring service, you are on the wrong website.

If you cannot obtain your free credit reports online, you may request your report by phone or request your report through the mail. Free credit reports requested by phone or mail will be processed within 15 days of receiving your request.

To request your credit report by phone, call 1-877-322-8228. You will go through a simple verification process over the phone. Your reports will be mailed to you within 15 days.

To request you credit report by mail, download the request form, print and complete the form, mail the completed form to Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA 30348-5281.

When you file bankruptcy through our firm, you should bring any credit reports you have with you to your appointment with our attorneys. With your written permission, we will run your credit reports through our vendor, which downloads the data from Experian and Transunion to our software.  The charge for the download is $26 for one person or $45 for a married couple.

Free credit reports do not contain your credit scores.  You can estimate your credit score for free, instantly and anonymously, by using a web tool, Credit Score Compass, on the credit.com website.

Photo Credit: Attribution Some rights reserved by Casey Serin

How Medical Bills Hurt Your Credit Rating

How Could Your Medical Bills Be A Credit Problem?
Do you have insurance that pays your credit card bills? Me neither. Do you have insurance that covers your medical bills? Yeah, me too. So, should these bills look the same on our credit reports? Read Kurt O’Keefe’s post on Money Health Central

Kansas Means Test Get Nicer March 15

The bankruptcy means test gets a little nicer to Kansas consumer debtors on March 15, 2011, when new, higher median family income figures go into effect. Kansas families will be allowed to have more gross income to pass the bankruptcy means test on the first round of analysis.

The median family income is used as the first step in determining whether or not a consumer may file a chapter 7 bankruptcy.  If the person’s median family income is below the average income for his state, then he qualifies to be in a chapter 7 without having to do any further analysis of his financial situation. In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the median family income is used as the first step in determining how much, if any, unsecured debt without priority has to be paid back. Many debtors pay little or no unsecured debt in their chapter 13 repayment plans.  They use chapter 13 as a tool to adjust their debt and manage their financial difficulties in an affordable fashion.

Here are the new means test figures for Kansas bankruptcy cases by household size:

1  $41,654 (up $672)

2  $57,174 (up $923)

3  $64,863 (up $1047)

4  $69,272 (up $1118)

5   $76,772 (up $1118)

6   $84,272 (up $1118)

add $7500 for each additional person.

These figures are to be used for bankruptcy cases filed on or after March 15, 2011.

New Topeka 13 Trustee Payment Address

Payments to the Topeka Chapter 13 Trustee should be mailed to a new lock box address starting March 1, 2011:

Chapter 13 Trustee
PO Box 2159
Topeka Kansas 66601-2159

You may also hand deliver to the 24 hour drop box at the trustee’s office at 507 SW Jackson, Topeka, Kansas.

Make checks payable to “Jan Hamilton, Chapter 13 Trustee” and print your name and case number on the check.

Do not send correspondence to the payment post office box.  It is for payments only.  It is opened by bank personnel not the trustee.  There is a good chance your papers will not get delivered to the trustee if you use the payment address.  Correspondence should be sent to Jan Hamilton Trustee, PO Box 3527, Topeka, KS 66601.  Print your name and case number on your correspondence.

How do I know the chapter 13 trustee got my payment, you ask.  Sign up for free online access to your account so you can monitor your payments in and the trustee disbursements out.

2011 Poverty Guidelines

2011 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR KANSAS, THE 48 CONTIGUOUS STATES AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Persons in family Poverty guideline
1 ………………………………………… $10,890
2 ………………………………………….. 14,710
3 ………………………………………….. 18,530
4 ………………………………………….. 22,350
5 ………………………………………….. 26,170
6 ………………………………………….. 29,990
7 ………………………………………….. 33,810
8 ………………………………………….. 37,630
For families with more than 8 persons, add $3,820 for each additional person.

The poverty guidelines issued here are a simplified version of the poverty thresholds that the Census Bureau uses to prepare its estimates of the number of
individuals and families in poverty.

As required by law, this update is accomplished by increasing the latest published Census Bureau poverty thresholds by the relevant percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI–U). The guidelines in this 2011 notice reflect the 1.6 percent price increase between calendar years 2009 and 2010. After this inflation adjustment, the guidelines are rounded and adjusted to standardize the differences between family sizes.

HCCI Offers Property Management Training

Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc.
Offers Property Management Training

In celebration of Fair Housing Month this April, HCCI is offering Property Management Training for landlords, property managers, social workers, social service providers and any other interested parties.  Training on how to handle common mistakes property managers and landlords encounter.  Get an overview of the Kansas Residential Landlord/Tenant Act regarding tenant and landlord rights and responsibilities.

Visit www.hcci-ks.org/Propmangtrain.pdf for details.

Where Do I Find Bankruptcy Laws and Rules?

Bankruptcy Code

Bankruptcy Rules

Local Bankruptcy Rules

How to Get Start Filing Bankruptcy

How to Get Started Filing Bankruptcy

Topeka Bankruptcy 341 Meeting Room Moved

The room used for Topeka bankruptcy meetings of creditors has been moved to 515 S. Kansas Ave., Suite 402, from the U.S. Post Office on the corner.

Starting January 27, 2011, the section 341 hearings conducted by Topeka bankruptcy trustees will be held in a four-story downtown office building across the street from the Bankruptcy Law Office location in the Bank of America Tower at 534 S. Kansas Ave.  The sign on the gray and tan building says Goodell Stratton Edmonds and Palmer for the law firm on the first floor of the building.

515 S. Kansas Avenue, Topeka, KS

Bankruptcy Law Tweaked

The bankruptcy law was tweaked by technical amendments signed into law on December 22, 2010, by President Barrack Obama.

H.R. 6198, the Bankruptcy Technical Corrections Act. The Act primarily makes truly technical changes, such as correcting cross-references in the statute where the numbering of an existing provision was changed (e.g., to section 521 or 704). It also does clarify that pre-petition credit counseling can occur on the same day as the petition is filed. It also changes “delay, hinder, and defraud” in section 362(d)(4) to “delay, hinder, or defraud”, conforming the phrase to other parts of the Code, according to Maureen Thompson, Legislative Director for the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA). You may find the text of the legislation at http://thomas.loc.gov.

More Kansans Can’t Pay Medical Bills

Kansas Health Institute reports that more and more Kansans cannot pay their medical bills. Hospitals are receiving more people who have no health insurance or other benefits.  The amount of uncompensated care provided by Kansas hospitals is rising.