Do You Have to Pay Taxes on Discharged Bankruptcy Debt?

Written by True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF® | Reviewed by Editorial Team

Updated on December 16, 2022

You do not have to pay taxes on discharged bankruptcy debt if you send Form 982, "Reduction of Tax Attributes Due to Discharge of Indebtedness (and Section 1082 Basis Adjustment)"to the IRS along with your tax return.

Your creditors will send the IRS Form 1099-C, which tells the IRS that your debt has been canceled or discharged.

Can Federal Income Taxes Be Discharged in Bankruptcy?

You may discharge federal income tax through bankruptcy if:

  • The taxes are income taxes only
  • You have not committed fraud or evasion
  • The debt is at least 3 years old
  • You filed a tax return
  • The debt has been assessed by the IRS at least 240 days before filing, or has not been assessed yet

Can Back Taxes Be Discharged in Bankruptcy?

Yes, back taxes, as well as many other federal taxes, can be discharged or reduced through bankruptcy.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy also allows you to include your overdue taxes in your debt repayment plan. The discharge also includes penalties and interest generated on the debt.

Can Federal Taxes Be Discharged in Bankruptcy?

Yes, many federal taxes, as well as most state taxes, can be reduced or discharged through bankruptcy, including income tax.

However, if you have a federal lien on any of your property because of back taxes that you owe, bankruptcy will not remove the lien.  


What does bankruptcy mean?

Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding in which a debtor declares their inability to pay back their creditors.

What are the different types of bankruptcy?

There are three common types of bankruptcy known as “chapters” in the U.S. bankruptcy code, Ch. 7, Ch. 11, and Ch. 13, each with varying criteria and consequences.

What is Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 is known as a liquidation bankruptcy. Most of your property will be sold to pay off your debts, then whatever debt in excess of the value of your liquidated property will be cleared.

What is Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a reorganization bankruptcy. With Chapter 13, you are able to keep your personal property and reorganize your debts to a payment schedule that enables you to pay back your creditors over time (often 3 to 5 years).

About the Author

True Tamplin, BSc, CEPF®

True Tamplin is a published author, public speaker, CEO of UpDigital, and founder of Finance Strategists.

True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), author of The Handy Financial Ratios Guide, a member of the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing, contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

To learn more about True, visit his personal website, view his author profile on Amazon, or check out his speaker profile on the CFA Institute website.

Find Advisor Near You