Publication 908

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Bankruptcy Tax Guide


This publication covers the federal income tax aspects of bankruptcy. Bankruptcy proceedings begin with the filing of a petition with the bankruptcy court. The filing of the petition creates a bankruptcy estate, which generally consists of all the assets of the person filing the bankruptcy petition. A separate taxable entity is created if the bankruptcy petition is filed by an individual under chapter 7 or chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code. These chapters are explained later. The tax obligations of taxable estates are discussed later under The Bankruptcy Estate.

The tax obligations of the person filing a bankruptcy petition (the debtor) vary depending on the bankruptcy chapter under which the petition was filed. For individuals, these are also explained in the first part of this publication. For other entities, see Partnerships and Corporations, later.

Generally, when a debt owed to another is canceled the amount canceled or forgiven is considered income that is taxed to the person owing the debt. If a debt is canceled under a bankruptcy proceeding, the amount canceled is not income. However, the canceled debt reduces the amount of other tax benefits the debtor would otherwise be entitled to. See Debt Cancellation, later.

This publication is not intended to cover bankruptcy law in general, or to provide detailed discussions of the tax rules for the more complex corporate bankruptcy reorganizations or other highly technical transactions. In these cases, you should seek competent professional advice.


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