Tag Archives: Chicago bankruptcy attorney

New Credit Reporting Rules: Many may find relief from reports of tax liens and civil judgments

New rules provide credit score relief for some people who have tax liens and civil money judgments against them. Errors on consumer credit reports have been a problem for a long time and many people have incorrect information on their credit reports. New credit reporting rules take effect July 1 and change the way Trans Union, Experian and Equifax verify data regarding the reporting of tax liens and civil judgments. Now, the three credit reporting agencies must verify the individual’s name, address and either social security number or date of birth. Since so many companies omit social security numbers for privacy concerns, there may be a large group of people who will no longer have tax liens and civil judgements appearing on their credit reports. This should also help prevent future instances of information appearing on the wrong person’s credit report.

The purpose of credit reporting and monitoring

From applying for a cell phone account or utility to buying a car or home, our credit rating is used to determine where we stand on the scale of credit risk. With great credit, we present a low risk of not making our payments in full and on time. The volume of credit data and computer systems processing and sharing information open the door to error. If we do not check our credit scores frequently, someone else’s negative information could prevent you from being accepted for a mortgage loan or a new credit card. Imagine finding out your credit score was damaged by another person’s tax lien or the civil judgement entered against them.

How errors happen and how prevalent they may be

With tax liens alone, some estimates suggest that half of the tax lien information reported to the credit bureaus has ended up appearing on the wrong person’s credit report. When social security numbers are available to the individuals reporting tax liens, one missed number could cause the wrong person to receive a negative mark on their credit report.

Even if someone checks their credit frequently, or pays a few bucks every month for a credit monitoring service, the effort it can take to correct the mistake can be staggering.

How the new rules apply to tax liens and civil judgments

The rule change for reporting information to the credit bureaus about tax liens and civil judgements will require the verification of three pieces of vital information, the individual’s name, address, and either their social security number or date of birth.

By requiring three sets of identifying criteria be matched before receiving credit reporting data about tax liens and civil judgments, the likelihood of mismatches is significantly reduced.

The new rules take effect July 1. This article in USA Today has more information about the new rules and how they might apply to you.

About us: Joseph Wrobel, Ltd., works with clients to find out if they qualify for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, and their options and rights under the law. The firm will also advise and assist clients with questions and concerns about the collectors and their rights to pursue you.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

 

March 2017 Chicago Bankruptcy Question and Answer Podcast with Joseph Wrobel

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress. Click/tap here to listen to this podcast interview anytime.

Sample questions answered in this 30-minute show:

  • How can I keep my car when I file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
  • How can my bankruptcy come off my credit reports but still shows up in public record searches?
  • What happens to my house if I file bankruptcy and my name is on the deed but not the loan?
  • I surrendered my car in my bankruptcy but the finance company hasn’t picked it up, now what?
  • What does it mean if a creditor has written off debt that’s included in my Chapter 13 plan?

Joseph Wrobel has been a practicing attorney since 1973 and has experience in a wide variety of law relating to legal matters for individuals and families. Wrobel helps clients get out of debt and get a fresh start. He is an active member in several bar associations and the Bankruptcy Panel of Pro Bono Program of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. After serving the U.S. Army Reserve 363rd Civil Affairs Unit, Wrobel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and in 1973, he earned a JD from DePaul University Law School.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

Visit our Chicago Bankruptcy website online for more about the firm or call for more information at (312) 781-0996 or e-mail at JosephWrobel@ChicagoBankruptcy.com.

Financial Fitness: Develop frugal habits to save money and live well

A wise parent tells their children, “It’s not how much money you can earn, what matters is how much you can save.” We can all remember the first time we started making more money and had discretionary spending power for the first time. Did you buy a new car, clothes you wanted or take a vacation? Did you start an IRA and start skimming off the top of your paycheck for a rainy day? Most of us spend money on things that make us feel good, and experts say we make most of our purchase decisions based on emotion and later we justify them with logic. While saving money and going without new things may not seem very exciting at first glance, the financial security that comes along with good habits is something that we can all use to not only protect us from loss, but also to propel ourselves into financial success in the future.

The best part of the following frugal life tips is that you do not have to change your lifestyle to save money and be ready for life’s curveballs.

10 ways to spend less and live well:

  1. Make a budget. If someone put you on the spot and asked how much of your monthly income you spend on food, transportation or entertainment, would you be able to answer the question? Many of us budget by spending until we run out of money and hope we can make it to the next paycheck. Some of us run low on money and buy out half the grocery store, and end up with more food than we need. It takes time and practice to make a budget and stick to it. Even if it takes a dozen tries, keep working on figuring out exactly how much we really need for monthly expenses and learning how much we really have to put away and save for the future.
  2. Use a grocery-shopping list. Those impulse buys are tempting! Food also looks better when you go to the grocery store on an empty stomach. Never go to the grocery store hungry because you are more likely to buy more than you need and everything looks good. Spending the time to make a grocery store list before you head to the market will help you buy what you really need and avoid coming home with too much produce that could spoil. Sticking to your grocery list is a good exercise in financial discipline.
  3. Get into the coupon game. Cutting coupons can be a fun game when you pretend each piece of paper is money. If you receive a newspaper, even a Sunday paper, full of coupons, flip through them, compare them to your grocery list, and see where you can save some money. Be careful however, and do not use the excuse of cost-savings to buy more than you need. Similarly, just because a jacket at the mall is 50 percent off, does not mean you need to buy it if you already have several good jackets at home.
  4. Buy cost-saving alternatives. We often buy the items we like and that which we are accustomed. If we look around and try new things, it is possible there are other options out there that cost less and are just as good. Take buying salmon, for example, a grocery store chain brand of frozen wild salmon can be just as tasty and healthy as the fresh salmon in the deli. If you can develop the habit of pulling a salmon steak from the freezer and defrosting it in the refrigerator overnight, your grocery store dollar is worth more money.
  5. Pack a lunch. If you spend money eating out for lunch every day, not only are you spending extra money, you also have less control over what you are eating. Saving money by bringing a lunch to work is a frugal win and can be healthier too. Forget the soggy sandwiches in a paper sack and invest in good containers and portable lunch items because you will save money quickly by bringing your lunch. By the way, this does not mean you have to be chained to your desk; find somewhere you enjoy to relax and enjoy your lunch-break.
  6. Buy used items. Plenty of folks buy used furniture on Craigslist and find great pieces while saving money. Buying used cars on eBay is another way to avoid the overhead of a retail store/dealer. When the alternative is to buy new from a store and put it on a credit card, gently used items can be twice as affordable. If you can save a decent down payment, consider an auto loan from a local credit union, buy a used car from a private party, and get more for your money.
  7. Shop and save on utilities. With the deregulation of electric companies, there is more competition on the marketplace than ever. There are several consumer websites helping consumers find the best deals on the utilities and services. Doing some research and making phone calls to the cable, Internet and television providers can lead to significant savings, even if it means changing providers.
  8. Make your own popcorn and get into Netflix. Going to the movies is fun, but it is also a habit, often an expensive one. For the price of a small box of popcorn at most theatres, you can sign up for Netflix or a similar streaming video service, assuming you have the right technology to play Internet on your television. Buying popcorn at the grocery store and saving gas money and avoiding the high price of movie theatre tickets is a good way to save money and relax in the convenience of your home, which you probably spend good money keeping up.
  9. Host get-togethers with friends and family. Easy and affordable entertainment options include inviting people over to your home for a game, movie or simply social occasion. If you suggest your guests please bring either something to eat or drink you really do not have to spend much money, and your contribution is the use of your home and the effort to clean before and after. We do not need an expensive restaurant to enjoy one the good company of others.
  10. Set cost savings goals and reward your success. When you consciously work on these frugal financial success techniques, estimate the money you would have otherwise spent on the expensive alternatives. You might be surprised how much more you have and the fun times you enjoy on less money. Consider your success in savings and treat yourself to a night out at a new restaurant or go to a movie at the new theatre in town, and you may notice, when you do so less frequently, it is even more fun. Nevertheless, you also might want to treat yourself by taking the money you saved and invest it in your future!

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

Visit our Chicago Bankruptcy website online for more about the firm or call for more information at (312) 781-0996 or e-mail at JosephWrobel@ChicagoBankruptcy.com.

Chicago Bankruptcy Questions and Answers with Joseph Wrobel, December 2015

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress.

Sample questions answered in this 30-minute show – click here and listen anytime

  • Can I still file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, even after I was served with a foreclosure complaint?
  • What is the pre-bankruptcy course, and why and when do I have to complete it?
  • Are there limits to the interest fees and charges I have to pay on credit card debt in Chapter 13?
  • How does reaffirmation work with loans for homes and vehicles when we want to keep them?
  • How will I be affected by my spouse’s bankruptcy filing, and do I also need to file with them?

Joseph Wrobel has been a practicing attorney since 1973 and has experience in a wide variety of law relating to legal matters for individuals and families. Wrobel helps clients get out of debt and get a fresh start. He is an active member in several bar associations and the Bankruptcy Panel of Pro Bono Program of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. After serving the U.S. Army Reserve 363rd Civil Affairs Unit, Wrobel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and in 1973, he earned a JD from DePaul University Law School.

Don’t forget to keep up with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Avvo, where you can read client and peer reviews!

Visit our Chicago Bankruptcy website online for more about the firm or call for more information at (312) 781-0996 or e-mail at JosephWrobel@ChicagoBankruptcy.com.

Discharging qualified tax debt in Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcies

Good people with bad income tax debt can discharge that tax debt in Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy cases if it is qualified tax debt according to the Internal Revenue Code. There are a large number of people who prepare their income tax returns every year and find out they owe the IRS. There may be payment plans the taxpayer can negotiate with the IRS when the money is not there to pay the tax bill. Despite the best-made payment plans, sometimes tax debtors cannot afford to make the scheduled payments. When tax debt is not paid, the IRS begins collection actions.

While W-2 wage earners have income taxes automatically withheld from their regular paychecks, the self-employed and small business owners are responsible for tracking their income and expenses and making estimated quarterly income tax payments. Problems such as recordkeeping errors or misplaced financial statements and receipts can delay the taxpayer from making their timely payments and some people miss IRS tax due dates, some eventually becoming years behind in filing and paying taxes. Tax penalties and interest are charged on tax debt every month.

The same work and income problems that lead to inability to pay mortgages, car loans and credit cards also affect people with tax debt they cannot pay. Bankruptcy Chapters 7 and 13 can solve a debt crisis.

Generally, tax debt is not dischargeable in bankruptcy, however, when five requirements are met, that qualified tax debt can be partially or fully wiped out or repaid over time.

  1. Income tax debt, interest and penalties may be dischargeable. Payroll tax and fraud penalties however are not dischargeable.
  2. Any income tax fraud or willful evasion will disqualify the tax debt from being dischargeable. Fraudulently using a false and social security number, for example, to evade paying taxes or purposely reporting less income than earned or deducting false expenses eliminates bankruptcy discharge eligibility.
  3. The income tax debt must be at least three years old to qualify for bankruptcy discharge. The tax return must have originally been due three or more years ago at the time of the bankruptcy filing.
  4. A tax return must have been filed for the income tax debt the bankruptcy filer wants to discharge. When returns are not filed, the IRS may record an estimated return. Even if the IRS seeks to collect tax debt on their estimated return, the debt is not dischargeable unless the taxpayer has filed an actual tax return.
  5. The 240-day rule is satisfied. To be dischargeable in bankruptcy court, the income tax debt must have been originally assessed at least 240 days prior to the filing for bankruptcy.

Even if a taxpayer’s income tax debt meets the five requirements for discharge in bankruptcy, a tax lien, placed on property, will not be extinguished, even if the underlying tax debt was forgiven in bankruptcy. Federal tax liens have to be paid before the property can be sold.

Assuming a taxpayer meets the five requirements to discharge income tax debt, the individual must qualify for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 (full discharge) requires the filer meet the income means test, determining if the individual’s income allows them to file for full discharge. The alternative is Chapter 13 (reorganization) which allows partial or full debts to be repaid over a three to five years, allowing the individual to catch up on debts over time.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. attorneys can help people by reviewing income and finances to determine whether they qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. They can also review and advise on whether income tax debt, interest and penalties qualifies for discharge.

Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. helps people get control of their finances and a fresh start at financial freedom. The firm’s website contains informative videos about financial issues as well as bankruptcy protection for families who want a fresh start. To keep in touch and read about consumer finance news and stories you can “Like” the firm’s Facebook page and “Follow” Joseph Wrobel. Ltd. on Twitter. If you need immediate legal assistance, please call Joseph Wrobel, Ltd. by calling (312) 781-0996 to talk to an attorney today.

 

Chicago bankruptcy questions and answers with Joseph Wrobel, September 2015

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress. 

Click/tap here to listen to the podcast now!

Topics covered in this 30 minute show:

  • What type of debts does a bankruptcy eliminate, and what debts will I have to keep?
  • How long does a debt need to exist to include it in my bankruptcy filing?
  • Are there any special rules in bankruptcy for home owners association dues?
  • How soon can I file for bankruptcy if I need to use the bankruptcy laws more than once?

Joseph Wrobel has been a practicing attorney since 1973 and has experience in a wide variety of law relating to legal matters for individuals and families. Wrobel helps clients get out of debt and get a fresh start. He is an active member in several bar associations and the Bankruptcy Panel of Pro Bono Program of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. After serving the U.S. Army Reserve 363rd Civil Affairs Unit, Wrobel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and in 1973 he earned a JD from DePaul University Law School.

Visit our Chicago Bankruptcy website online for more about the firm. You may also contact Joseph Wrobel for more information at (312) 781-0996 and by e-mail at JosephWrobel@ChicagoBankruptcy.com

Bankruptcy Basics: August 2015, Real Questions, Real Answers with Joseph Wrobel

Chicago bankruptcy and consumer credit attorney Joseph Wrobel shares news and updates in bankruptcy law as well as business and consumer financial matters. It has been documented that financial troubles can cause all sorts of ailments, the most common of which is sleeplessness. Joseph Wrobel helps clients alleviate their anxiety created by the inability to pay bills and the embarrassment of financial distress.

Click/tap here to listen to the podcast now!

Topics covered in this 30 minute show:

  • How do I file for bankruptcy but also keep my home where I have a bad mortgage deal?
  • I had a bankruptcy 3 years ago and to date the bank has not taken my home, what do I do?
  • How can bankruptcy help me with medical bills I incurred when I didn’t have health insurance?
  • My husband might file for bankruptcy after the divorce, how do I protect my house?

Joseph Wrobel has been a practicing attorney since 1973 and has experience in a wide variety of law relating to legal matters for individuals and families. Wrobel helps clients get out of debt and get a fresh start. He is an active member in several bar associations and the Bankruptcy Panel of Pro Bono Program of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. After serving the U.S. Army Reserve 363rd Civil Affairs Unit, Wrobel earned a B.A. in Psychology from Northwestern University and in 1973 he earned a JD from DePaul University Law School.

Visit our Chicago Bankruptcy website online for more about the firm. You may also contact Joseph Wrobel for more information at (312) 781-0996 and by e-mail at JosephWrobel@ChicagoBankruptcy.com