Dealing with IRS Debt that Can’t Be Discharge in Chapter 7


Personal income tax debts that are older than 3 years may be discharged. For a fuller discussion see: Can I Discharge IRS Taxes In Bankruptcy?

After Chapter 7 discharge there are 2 types of tax that remain:

  1. Non-Discharged taxes; and,
  2. Tax Liens. The tax liability may have been discharged but the lien remains.


A  Taxpayer may be able to deal with the IRS outside of bankruptcy. Bear  in mind that interest and penalties will continue. The IRS may levy  wages and/or bank accounts.

The second method is to file Chapter 13: Buys Time and may eliminate or reduce liens.

Chapter  13 allows you to pay the Non Discharged tax debts in an orderly manner:  up to 5 years. Interest and penalties stop. The IRS will not levy your  wages or your bank account nor will they file new liens.


The IRS often files tax liens on all the property of the taxpayer in the county where he/she lives.

Chapter 7 may have discharged an old tax debts but it may have a lien.

  1. Real Estate. An  IRS lien has a life of 10 years and can be renewed. If you want to  eliminate the lien or deal with see below: IRS Tax liens and Chapter 13  and IRS Liens on Your Home.
  2. IRS liens on the personal property don’t pose a problem:
    1. If you move to another county it goes away;
    2. The  IRS exempts $6,250 of household furniture and personal effects from  levy. (26 U.S. Code 6334). The IRS is not in the business of selling  used furniture.


To  eliminate; reduce, or pay the tax liens one has to calculate equity  before the IRS lien: the market value less senior liens including  mortgages and even real estate taxes. (The Illinois homeowner’s  exemption can’t be used against IRS liens.)

  1. No equity.  Market value is $250,000 and the mortgage(s) balances exceed $250,000.  In Chapter 13 the lien will be avoided in its entirety;
  2. Some  equity. Market value is $250,000 and senior liens total $240,000. Lien  is $25,000. A Chapter 13 plan will have to pay $10,000 for a period up  to 5 years. The balance of the lien is eliminated.
  3. The  equity is great enough to pay the lien. The market value is $250,000 and  senior liens total $230,000. The lien is for $18,000. The Chapter 13  plan will have to the $18,000. You have up to 5 years to pay it and  further interest is likely eliminated as well as penalties.

The above scenario is where the taxpayer filed Chapter 7 and after the discharge filed Chapter 13.

Most  folks file Chapter 13 in the first place. The tax debt is bifurcated  into what is dischargeable and what is not. Likewise, liens are handled  based on equity. The main difference is that dischargeable debts will  have to pay a dividend, generally around 10%.

Disclaimer: Posting on legal matters is for information purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

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