Kentucky Bankruptcy Law

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Disability Income and the Means Test

To file a Chapter 7 one must qualify under the means test. Well, that is the layman’s explanation. What is actually going on is that one must go through a formula of looking at their currently monthly income as derived from the last six months preceding the month in which the bankruptcy is filed to see if there is a presumption that filing Chapter 7 is an abuse of the bankruptcy system. Okay, let’s stick with the layman’s version.

Anyway, what matters to those of you who receive disability benefits is whether or not they have to be included in the calculation of your current monthly income in the means test. This matters because it could knock some folks out of the Chapter 7 range. Current monthly income is actually a term in statute and can be found at 11 U.S.C. Sect. 101(10A). This basically says it is all money coming in except for a couple of narrow exceptions. The exception that is most commonly found are funds one receives as a result of the Social Security Act.

The Social Security Act can be found in Title 42 of the United States Code. It covers a number of things, including Social Security retirement funds and Social Security disability. Some jurisdictions also recognize unemployment benefits as falling under this exception, while others do not.

Since Social Security Disability is excluded as “current monthly income” for purposes of the means test, one would logically assume that all disability benefits are excluded. Wrong! For example, disability income that military veterans receive from the Veteran’s Administration arise out of Title 38 of the United States Code rather than Title 42, so they are included as income for the purposes of completing the means test. It just is. Please do not ask me to explain it – just accept it.

November 25, 2014 Posted by | Bankruptcy, Chapter 7, Means test | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Child Support Intricacy: Tax credits

The Court of Appeals addresses the treatment of a couple of different tax credits in determining income for child support calculations in the to be published decision Brausch v. Brausch, 2007-CA-002198-ME (Sept. 12, 2008). The appellant, James Brausch, argued that the Earned Income Credit and the additional Child Tax Credit that his ex-wife, Tracy, received in 2006 should count as income for her.

One would have to have all the income figures and plug them into the Kentucky child support worksheet to know how exactly James would benefit from the inclusion of these tax credits. Adding income to either side of the equation can raise the overall support obligation, but also changes the percentage each party would be responsible to pay. So, one can assume that James percentage would be lowered enough to decrease his obligation.

The Kentucky child support definition of income in KRS 403.212 is very broad, but benefits from means-tested public assistance programs are specifically excluded as income. The Court determined that the Earned Income Tax Credit is a public assistance benefit because it is treated as a dollar for dollar payment of tax. Rather than just reducing one’s tax liability, it could actually result in a refund. They also determined it was means-tested because it is directed towards the neediest of families. For example, it is phased out for families with two or more qualifying children at just $11,600.00 earned income. So, the Court held that the Earned Income Credit should not be included as income.

The Child Tax Credit received different treatment by the Court. They point to the $110,000.00 ceiling for receiving this credit so it cannot qualify for exclusion from income as a means-tested public assistance benefit. However, the Court determined that because the Child Tax Credit is determined by and tied to the dependent child exemptions, it is not income. Basically, the Court treated the Child Tax Credit as an extension of the dependent child exemptions which have traditionally been within the discretion of the trial court to allocate between parents. In this particular matter, Tracy had already been awarded the dependent child deductions for the year in question, so she was allowed to keep the $3000.00 she recieved but not include the amount as income.

In going forward in this case and as a guide for others, the Court favors equally dividing such deductions in a simple and straightforward manner. This can be accomplished with an even number of children by assigning each parent one-half of the deductions each year or by rotating the deductions from year to year.

September 20, 2008 Posted by | child support, Family Law | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Income in divorce is not the same as with the IRS

People typically think of income in terms of how the IRS defines income, even when it comes to divorce. This makes sense because we deal with income and IRS on an annual basis (except certain notable celebrities) while we deal with divorce, if at all, only once (again with certain celebrities excepted). However, they are not defined exactly the same.

In the recently released Kentucky Supreme Court case, Gripshover v. Gripshover, (2005-SC-000729-DG & 2006-SC-000258-DG)(Feb. 21, 2008)(to be published), , one particular difference is illuminated. The IRS provides for certain business expenses to be fully depreciated (expensed) in the year of the expense rather than depreciated over time. 26 USC Sec. 179. The Gripshover Court held that KRS 403.212 provides only for straight line depreciation. This means that the IRS reported income will often be lower than the income used for determining child support in divorce cases where a business owner is one of the spouses.

It also means that the days of relying on a business owner’s 1040 with the various self-employment schedules to show income is gone. CPA’s will be needed who understand the difference definition of income in divorce in order to determine child support.

February 23, 2008 Posted by | child support, Divorce, Family Law, Marital Assets, property allocation | , , , | 1 Comment