tax return with hundred dollar billsSome time ago I wrote about discharging income taxes in bankruptcy.  I subsequently wrote about discharging income taxes in bankruptcy for a tax year in which the debtor filed a return after the taxing authority ― for simplicity I will generically label the authority as the IRS, though the discussion applies to other taxing authorities ― filed a substitute for return and assessed the tax.

A fellow bankruptcy attorney of the highest caliber, who is also a good friend, read the substitution for return post ― Yippee!  I always love hearing that people are reading the blog ― and drew my attention to a brand new decision of the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the Ninth Circuit (the “BAP”) in the appeal of one of the cases I discussed in substitute for return post.  He suggested that I write a follow up post.  Following the rule always to take requests from the audience (please try the veal piccata, and be sure to tip the wait staff), I offer the following update.

To set the stage for this post I will begin with a précis of the aforementioned (does anyone other than an attorney use the word “aforementioned”?) two previous posts.  If you want more detail, read those two posts.

I.  The Three-Part Tax Dischargeability Test

For a tax to be dischargeable in bankruptcy, it must satisfy three requirements:

1.  (The three-year rule) The tax return for the tax year in question must have been due (including extensions) – but not necessarily actually filed – at least three years before the filing of the bankruptcy papers,

2.  (The two-year rule) The debtor must have actually filed a legitimate, nonfraudulent tax return for that tax year at least two years before the filing of the bankruptcy papers, and

3.  (The 240-day rule) The taxing authority cannot have assessed the tax during the 240 days prior to filing the bankruptcy papers.

The second requirement, the so-called two-year rule, has been the subject of extensive litigation throughout the country, with a wide range of inconsistent outcomes.  It is the afflatus for this post.
Continue Reading

RadioFor those of you that thought I had fallen off the earth, let me assure you that the gravitational field is still in good working order.

I have been busy teaching probability and statistics (in case you didn’t know, I have a Ph.D. in mathematics) and representing some clients in complicated and messy litigation.  Now

I will be covering the topics of :  1) Preferential Transfers: Preference Actions and Substantive Defenses, 2) Fraudulent Transfers: Actual Intent and Affirmative Defenses, and 3) Appellate Procedure and Strategies: Appeals from Final Orders and Interlocutory Appeals.  I will present this talk at the National Business Institute’s “Bankruptcy Litigation 101” seminar in Orange, CA on

I recently had an interesting email exchange with a couple of fellow bankruptcy attorneys on the subject of foreclosure.  The specific question we discussed was whether a second mortgage holder’s claim is extinguished after the holder of the first mortgage conducts a foreclosure sale.

The question is complicated by the fact that there are three relevant statutes at work, and they don’t have the same foci.

I.          The “One-Action” Rule

The first statute is Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 726, which states in relevant part:

There can be but one form of action for the recovery of any debt or the enforcement of any right secured by mortgage upon real property or an estate for years therein, which action shall be in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

This means that if a creditor holds a mortgage on a piece of property, it has one bite at the apple:  it can either foreclose on the property, or sue the borrower to collect on the debt, but not both.  Thus, if the lender conducts a foreclosure sale and comes up short, it cannot sue the borrower to collect the post-resale deficiency.  The shortfall has to be cancelled, which is why the (former) homeowner can face a nasty tax bill after losing the home.
Continue Reading