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Accounting Series- Confusing Tax Forms

If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, consider the following ideas.

Security Deposits With Landlords

If the debtors are renting, make sure you include the deposit paid to the landlord on Schedule B. Listing this asset does not take money from the debtor; but not listing it could throw up a red flag to the court that you may have left out additional information.

Of course, if there is no security deposit with the landlord you need to make a note for the attorney file in case this question is asked by the Trustee.

Household Goods and Furnishings (No Lien)

Every debtor filing bankruptcy has some type of household goods and furnishings, even if it is an empty guitar case where they keep their clothes. In addition, even if the debtor is renting a furnished apartment, he or she will have some type of household goods and furnishings such as a trash can, knives, forks, spoons, and bowls, etc. Therefore, this property type needs to always be included in every bankruptcy petition you prepare.

Household Goods and Furnishings (With a Lien)

Any household goods and furnishings with a lien attached to them should be listed separately on Schedule B. Then, if the debtor intends to keep the asset and has the income to continue making the payments, the monthly payment needs to be listed on Line 13(b) of Schedule J.

Wearing Apparel

Every person filing bankruptcy will have wearing apparel. However, debtors often do not think their clothing is worth much money and will normally write $0 as to the value of their clothing when filling out the client intake forms. However, even if the debtor only owns a pair of sneakers, a t-shirt, and a pair of shorts, there is at least a value of $1.00 that is listed under this property type on Schedule B.

One good rule of thumb is to include the number of people in the household when you write the description for this property type. For example:

Wearing apparel and personal effects for 2 adults, 1 infant, and 1 teenager

Next, make sure these family members are all accounted for on Schedule I of the petition. This also provides backup for the additional expenses you list on Schedule J for such items as baby diapers and formula, school sports expenses, etc.

Furs and Jewelry

If the debtor is married they will normally always own a wedding ring. Therefore, the court will look for this asset to be listed on Schedule B for any married debtor. Of course, you may encounter the rare incident where a married person has no wedding ring, but you need to make sure this information is recorded in the file before you decide not to list it on Schedule B.

Interests in Insurance Policies

Often, you do not know about the term life insurance policy until you get to the paycheck stubs and find the deduction from the debtor’s paycheck. Distinguish between “term” and “whole life” policies for this property type on Schedule B. And because “term” life insurance policies have no cash value you will leave the amount of “$0” as the market value. However, “whole” life insurance policies will have a market value.

Carolyn Secor P.A. focuses its practice in the areas of Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Defense in Clearwater, Florida. For more information, go to our web site or call 727-335-7151.