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MD & Washington DC Bankruptcy Attorney

   I’m Washington DC Bankruptcy attorney Vanessa Pacheco Bell. We practice exclusively bankruptcy law to provide clients with the experienced and personalized representation that Maryland and Washington DC bankruptcy cases require. Our goal is to provide our clients with quality and affordable bankruptcy services and give them a fresh start in their financial life. Our MD & Washington DC Bankruptcy attorneys help our clients navigate the bankruptcy process and present solutions that protect assets and eliminate debt. We pay close attention to detail, carefully examining all aspects of your financial situation so that we can identify and resolve all potential problems.

We work directly with each of our clients. Your case is never passed around from one inexperienced paralegal or petition preparer to another. We know the intricacies of your case and give it the attention and care it deserves.

If you are facing unpaid credit card bills, medical bills, repossession of your property, foreclosure, our attorneys can help stop collection efforts and get you back on your financial feet.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Maryland & Washington DC Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Information:

Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings are the most common bankruptcy filings in the nation and the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Filing bankruptcy imposes an automatic stay that immediately stops creditor collection activity. Filing a Chapter 7 could allow you to:

  • Protect your home, vehicles, bank and retirement accoutns
  • Eliminate or significantly reduce your debts
  • Stop harassing creditors calls and letters
  • Stop  foreclosure
  • Stop wage garnishment
  • Eliminate Credit Card debt
  • Stop vehicle repossession
  • Stop collection on a judgment
  • Activate a suspended drivers license
  • Unfreeze a bank account or other assets
  • Eliminate Tax debt
  • Eliminate HOA fees
Who Can File For Bankruptcy

Any “person that resides or has a domicile, a place of business, or property in the United States, or a municipality” could file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

In 2005, congress enacted the The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention And Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) to prevent bankruptcy laws from being abused. The enactment of BAPCPA made it more difficult for people to file a bankruptcy case.  Specifically, it imposed an stringent means test that a person must pass in order to qualify for relief under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code.

The means test consists of determining a person’s current monthly income, then comparing the current monthly income in an annualized basis to the median income of a like-sized family in Maryland or Washington D.C.  If the person’s income is less than or equal to state’s median family income, then the debtor passes the means test and is eligible to file under Chapter 7.  If the person’s income is above the median family income, then further analysis must be done of the person’s debts and expenses by a qualified bankruptcy attorney.

Tax Debt & Bankruptcy

I’m frequently asked whether tax debt owed to Uncle Sam could be discharged (wiped out) in a bankruptcy Chapter 7 proceeding. The answer is yes. However, Tax debt must to fall under the following narrow rules of 11 U.S.C. §523(a)(1) and 11 U.S.C. §507(a)(8).

 

The 3 Year Rule: The tax return must have been last due and filed, including extensions, 3 years before the filing of the bankruptcy case. There are various issues that could extend this 3 year period, including prior bankruptcies, collection due process hearings, and filed tax return extensions.

The 2 Year Rule: The return must have been filed 2 years before the filing of the bankruptcy case.

The 240 Days Rule: The IRS must have assessed the tax debt at least 240 days before the bankruptcy case is filed. There are various issues that could extend the 240 day rule, including prior bankruptcies, and offers to compromise the tax debt.

Fraud: The tax debt cannot have been incurred by fraudulent means, including tax evasion or by filing a fraudulent tax return.

Income Tax: The tax debt must derive from income tax assessment.

Interest and penalties: If the tax debt is dischargeable so is the interest, and a penalty has to be older than 3 years old to be discharged.

 Tax debt that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy: There are various tax debts that cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy proceeding, including tax liens that have been recorded prior to the bankruptcy case, and unpaid withholding taxes, such as Social Security and FICA.

The first step in determining if your tax debt could be discharged in a bankruptcy proceeding is to request a tax transcript from the IRS. The tax transcript will inform you, among other things, of assessment dates and filing dates.  You can obtain your transcript here

Protecting Your Property with Bankruptcy: Washington D.C. Bankruptcy Exemptions

A promulgated misconception about bankruptcy law is that people lose all their property when they file for bankruptcy.  However, bankruptcy laws were drafted in such a way that a person can file for bankruptcy and still protect their property.  The property you can keep from being liquidated in a bankruptcy proceeding is called exempt property.

In Washington D.C. there are two options for those who would like to file for bankruptcy and exempt (protect) their property.  In D.C. you have the option of choosing between the federal bankruptcy exemptions or the District of Columbia exemptions. You cannot mix and match the exemptions, you must select one. Which one you choose should be a well-thought-out decision to maximize protection of your property.

The following is a list of the most commonly used bankruptcy exemptions in Washington D.C. Exemptions are updated on a regular basis. You can find the Washington D.C. exemptions in the Code of the District of Columbia.

Homestead

100% of the debtor’s aggregate interest in real property used as the primary residence of the debtor. 15-501(a)(14).

Motor vehicle

One vehicle’s equity is protected up to $2575 in value. 15-501(a)(1).

Tools of Trade

Debtor’s aggregate interest in any implements or tools of trade is protected up to $1,625 in value. 15-501(a)(4).

Debtor’s library, office furniture, and implements is protected up to $300 in value 15-501(a)(3).

Household furnishings; household goods; wearing apparel

House hold goods are protected up to $8,625 in aggregate value, and up to $425 for any individual item.15-501(a)(2).

Debtor’s family pictures; and all the family library, up to $400 in value. 15-501(a)(8).

Benefits

 The debtor’s right to receive social security benefits, veteran’s benefit; a disability, illness, or unemployment benefit. 15-501(a)(7).

Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions

 

The following is a list of the most commonly used federal bankruptcy exemptions in Washington D.C. Exemptions are updated on a regular basis. You can find the federal exemptions in the Bankruptcy Code.

Homestead

Debtor’s equity in real property used as the primary residence is protected up to $22,975.

Motor Vehicle

One vehicle’s equity is protected up to $3,675.

Household furnishings; household goods; wearing apparel

House hold goods are protected up to $12,250 in aggregate value, and up to $575 for any individual item.

Tools of Trade

Debtor’s aggregate interest in any implements or tools of trade is protected up to $12,250.

 Wild Card Exemption

You can apply the federal wildcard exemption to any property you own.  At the moment you are allowed $1,225 plus $11,500 of whatever portion of the homestead exemption you do not use to exempt any type of property.

 

Protecting your Property with Bankruptcy: Maryland Bankruptcy Exemptions

A promulgated misconception about bankruptcy law is that people lose all their property when they file for bankruptcy.  However, bankruptcy laws were drafted in such a way that a person can file for bankruptcy and still protect their property.  The property you can keep from being liquidated is called exempt property.

You are allowed to exempt (protect) property up to the value allowed by the exemption law. If the property that you own is valued at less than or equal to the amount of the exemption, then the property is completely exempt and the bankruptcy trustee cannot liquidate it.  If the property’s value exceeds the exemption’s allowed amount, then the nonexempt portion is vulnerable to the trustee and creditors.

In Maryland, if a married couple is filing jointly then each spouse may claim the full value of the full amount of each exemption. The following is a list of the most commonly used bankruptcy exemptions in Maryland. Exemptions are updated on a regular basis. You can find the rest of the Maryland exemptions in the Code of Maryland.

Real Estate

Owner occupied residential property is protected up to $22,975.   11–504 (f)(1)(i)(2).

Tools of Trade

Debtor’s aggregate interest protected up to $5,000 in value.  11–504 (b)(1).

Household furnishings; household goods; wearing apparel

 Debtor’s aggregate interest protected up to $1,000.  11-504(b)(4).

Wild Card

This exemption could be used to exempt cash or property of any kind equivalent in value to $6,000. This exemption could be used to exempt the equity in an automobile or bank accounts. 11-504(b)(5).

 

Bankruptcy Procedural Information

Maryland & Washington DC Chapter 7 Bankruptcy information:

The United States Bankruptcy Courts oversees bankruptcy cases. Bankruptcy Courts are courts created under Article I of the constitution. They function as units of the District Courts and have jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases.

The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Maryland oversees bankruptcy cases in Maryland and The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Columbia oversees bankruptcy cases filed in the district.
The Federal Rules of Bankruptcy procedure and the local rules of each bankruptcy court govern the bankruptcy process in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

District of Columbia Bankruptcy Court

Directions and Information: http://www.dcb.uscourts.gov/dcb/hours

Maryland Bankruptcy Court

Directions and Information:  http://www.mdb.uscourts.gov/content/court-locations

History of Bankruptcy Law

Bankruptcy law is federal statutory law contained in Title 11 of the United States Code that governs all bankruptcy cases throughout the nation including the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. Bankruptcy law is a right under the United States Constitution. Congress passed the Bankruptcy Code under its Constitutional grant of authority to “establish… uniform laws on the subject of Bankruptcy throughout the United States.” See U.S. Constitution Article I, Section 8.

Please look at the rest of the information about Maryland &  Washington DC Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Information and it will give you a better understanding of the bankruptcy process.

The right to file bankruptcy is authorized under federal law. Filing bankruptcy imposes an automatic stay that immediately stops creditor collection activity. Filing for bankruptcy could allow you to:

  • Protect your home, vehicles, bank and retirement accounts
  • Eliminate or significantly reduce your debts
  • Stop harassing creditors calls and letters
  • Stop  foreclosure
  • Stop wage garnishment
  • Eliminate Credit Card debt
  • Stop vehicle repossession
  • Restructure mortgage or loans

Washington DC Bankruptcy attorney and Maryland Bankruptcy attorney

 

Comments or questions are welcome.

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Downtown Office Location

Conveniently located within walking distance from  3 metro stations

2101 L Street NW #800
Washington, DC 20037

(202) 445-4775

Chevy Chase Location

Conveniently Located Above the Friendship Heights Red Line Metro

5335 Wisconsin Avenue NW #440
Washington, DC 20015

(202) 445-4775

We are a debt relief agency. We help Washington DC and Maryland people file for bankruptcy under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The information contained in this web site is intended to convey general information. It should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. It is not an offer to represent you, nor is it intended to create an attorney-client relationship. Any communication sent via the Internet using this web site would not be confidential and would not create an attorney-client relationship.

Bankruptcy attorney Washington DC & Maryland.