Tax Refunds and Returns
There is no specific protection for tax refunds in bankruptcy. As such, the “wild card” exemption* is used to try to protect these funds as much as possible. Further, any portion of your tax refund that pertains to the “earned income credit” is also fully protect and yours to keep.
In a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you may lose all or part of your tax refund due for the tax year in which you filed your bankruptcy. For example, if you file for bankruptcy in 2012, your Trustee may be entitled to all or part of your 2009 refund, which is due from the tax return that you will be file in 2011.
If you file for bankruptcy today, you must provide copies of your tax returns for the years 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and you may have to provide a copy of your 2012 tax return when it is filed, to the Trustee. In a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, you must also provide copies of your tax returns to your Trustee during the term of your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. You will generally lose tax refunds during the entire term of your Chapter 13, not including any amount that can be protected by the “wild card”.
* The wildcard exemption is $1,000 per person. It allows you to retain up to $1,000 of assets (cash, accounts, property …) that is not otherwise protected when you file for bankruptcy.