It perhaps wouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to learn that bankruptcy reform has not exactly emerged as a hot-button issue on Capitol Hill over the last few months. Indeed, both Congress and the Trump Administration have been more than occupied by debates concerning everything from immigration and health care to the longstanding Supreme Court vacancy.
Interestingly enough, however, there was at least one noteworthy bankruptcy-related provision included in the first budget proposal released by President Trump just last week.
The provision calls for the fees associated with bankruptcy filings, which currently generate roughly $138 per year for the Department of Justice’s U.S. Trustee Program, to be increased by close to $150 million “to ensure that those that use the bankruptcy court system pay for its oversight.”
The provision is silent, however, as to which forms of bankruptcy would see filing fees increase to accommodate this $289 million goal. Currently, the filing fees for bankruptcy include $335 for Chapter 7, $310 for Chapter 13, and $1,717 for Chapters 9, 11 and 15.
While the notion of bankruptcy filing fees increasing is understandably disconcerting, it’s important to keep in mind that there is no guarantee that this provision will be included in the final version of the budget, which has yet to even begin making its way through Congress.
Furthermore, even if such a provision is included, we have yet to see whether it would even be applicable to Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, the two most common types of consumer bankruptcy.
Lastly, those debating filing for personal bankruptcy should be aware that the bankruptcy courts do have a process whereby those unable to afford the filing fee can pursue either fee waivers or installment payments. We’ll explore this more in our next post.
In the meantime, if you have questions relating to the bankruptcy process — Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 — consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can provide answers and help you move toward a fresh start.