Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing Fees: Chapter 7 & Chapter 13

  1. Any time you start a legal action, you will almost certainly be required to pay a fee - even filing for bankruptcy. In addition to administrative costs the government must bear such as having a court clerk make photocopies and file your documents, the filing fees are intended to discourage people from filing lawsuits when frivolus or abusive. The same logic is the same with the bankruptcy filing fee, whether you're filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. While the bankrutpcy court appreciates your difficult financial situation, they will still typically require the fee although they might make an exception to the rule if you're under significant financial duress.

    Chapter 7 Filing Fees: Starting a Case


    A petition must be filed in Bankruptcy Court in order to start a petition for bankruptcy. This petition is usually called a "Voluntary Petition" or Form B1. However, there are times when a creditor will take the initiative and start the case by filing an Involuntary Petition (Form B5) against you. The party that files the bankruptcy petition is required to pay a $299 filing fee at the time it's filed. That bankruptcy filing fee includes the following:
    • $245 - Filing fee to start the bankruptcy case
    • $39 - Administrative fee
    • $15 - Compensation paid to the trustee (a person appointed by the U.S. Department of Justice or by the creditors involved in a bankruptcy case)

    Chapter 13 Filing Fees: Starting a Case


    A Chapter 13 case can only begin one way - you, the debtor, pay a $274 fee when you file the voluntary petition for bankruptcy. A creditor cannot file an involuntary petition to start a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case against you as could occur in a Chapter 7 case. The Chapter 13 voluntary petition for bankruptcy includes:
    • $235 Filing fee to start the bankruptcy case
    • $39 Administrative fee
    The reason why there isn't any fee for the trustee is because of the way Chapter 13 bankruptcy works. The bankruptcy trustee fee is calculated and factored into the Chapter 13 repayment plan.

    If You Cannot Pay the Bankruptcy Filing Fee


    The bankruptcy court realizes that your financial situation is dire. For someone who is filing for bankruptcy, coming up with the $299 filing fee might be a problem. There are some options available to you that might help you avoid paying the filing fee to start your bankruptcy case.

    Waiver of the Filing Fee

    For Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings, the petitioner can request that the court waive the filing fee. Eligibility for a waiver includes the requirement that your income is below 150% of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Poverty Guidelines for the same size family as is listed. Simply fill out the fee waiver form and include it with your bankruptcy petition when you file.

    Paying the Filing Fee in Installments

    If you file for either Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings, you may be able to divide the fee into four installment payments of any size you set. Best to set the amounts reasonably since approval is required from the Bankruptcy Court and the judge may set up a payment schedule for you if it doesn't care for your plan. All four installment payments are due within 120 days and time extensions are rarely granted, only for special circumstances. You must explain why you haven't been able to make the payments and what reasonable plan you have to pay them in the future.

    Filing Fees to Repoen Chapter 7 or 13 Bankruptcy


    If your Chapter 7 or 13 Bankruptcy has been closed and you need to reopen your case, you'll need to pay either $245 to reopen a Chapter 7 case or $235 to reopen a Chapter 13 case. Fee waivers are usually not an option when reopening a bankruptcy case as they are rarely granted.

    Bankruptcy Filing Fees Subject to Change


    The fees required to file a bankruptcy case change regularly and the amounts listed are current through May 2011. You can find the current bankruptcy fee schedule on the U.S. Courts website. including a complete list of bankruptcy forms. You can contact a Federal Bankruptcy Court in your area. You may also wish to speak to an experienced bankruptcy attorney since it is critical to plan properly for a clean new start and obtain the maximum amount of relief you can to do so. Make sure that if you speak to a bankruptcy attorney you find out not only how much they charge but whether or not it also includes the bankruptcy filing fees.
    Bankruptcy & Debt:
    Bankruptcy - Chapter 13

    Michael M. Wechsler

    Michael M. Wechsler
    Michael M. Wechsler is an experienced attorney, founder of TheLaw.com, A. Research Scholar at Columbia Business School and of-counsel to Kaplan, Williams & Graffeo, LLC. He was also an SVP and chief Internet strategist at Zedge.net and legal consultant at Kroll Ontrack, a leading service e-discovery and computer forensics service provider.

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