In Arizona, both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy is used to discharge debt and give debtors a fresh start. However, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the quicker and cheaper route to your debt free life. It is by far the most preferred bankruptcy for consumers and the average American out there. Because it is the most preferred bankruptcy method, there have been quite a few people over the years who have tried to fraudulently rack up debt and file bankruptcy even though they had plenty of money to pay their debts. So in 2005, to deter fraud, the Bankruptcy Court created the “Means Test” under the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. Essentially the Means Test determines whether your Chapter 7 filing is “presumed to be abuse.” It is the hurdle you must jump to file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy. When you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy most all of your debts can be completely wiped out. So if a person filing bankruptcy actually has the money to pay back their debts, filing for Chapter 7 relief would be presumed to be abuse, or unfair. If you fail the means test then you most likely can still file a bankruptcy, but this time it would need to be a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
The Means Test itself requires you to be poor enough to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Arizona. There are average income levels you must fall under and/or use in calculating what necessary living expenses are allowed for a family of your size in your same county. The test is also used to determine whether or not your income could be used to pay off debts. Unless otherwise exempt, you must qualify under the bankruptcy Means Test in Arizona to even file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief. How do you know if you are exempt? You may be exempt from the Means Test if what you owe is primarily debt all based on your own business. For example, if you are self employed and you have a business line of credit and business credit cards, business leases, etc. and that is all more of a percentage of debt than your personal credit cards, etc. then you may be exempt from the Means Test. The money you lost when the company filed for bankruptcy would also be business debt. Other exemptions specifically relate to falling into debt during military service for those such as disabled veterans or active duty National Guard/Reservists.
Arizona Bankruptcy Means Test Median Income Figures
What are the Arizona Median Income Levels? They change often. As of May 1 2020 the Median Income numbers used in your Arizona Means Test calculations are as follows:
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Arizona Bankruptcy Means Test Calculator
Like many other things in our culture, there are no shortage of Means Test calculators available all over the internet. It is important that no matter which Arizona Means Test Calculator you use, that it is up to date with the correct figures according to bankruptcy laws.
Step 1. Determine whether your income is below Arizona’s median income level. Arizona bankruptcy law requires you to look at the 6 months of your income immediately prior to your filing. Calculate your monthly income for the six months before filing for bankruptcy and compare it to the median income for households of your size in Arizona (see the above chart). Ensure that you are correctly calculating your income and that you are including ALL of your various income when comparing it to the income levels in Arizona. If you fall below the income levels of households of your size in Arizona, then you have passed the Arizona Means Test and automatically qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief! However, if your income ends up being above the median income level in Arizona, then you will need to complete the Means Test Calculation bankruptcy form. This is where it can get tricky. A qualified bankruptcy lawyer at Dodge & Vega PLC will be very helpful in determining your income as well as completing the means test calculation for you.
Step 2. Complete The Means Test. The Means Test Calculation is just math and it calculates your disposable income by adding up your monthly expenses and subtracting them from your monthly income. The whole reason we do this math is because the bankruptcy law requires us to determine whether you have any money left over each month to pay down some of your debt. Any excess income above and beyond what Arizona Bankruptcy law deems as reasonable and necessary living expenses (allowable living expenses) is presumed to best used to pay towards your debts. You can see how important it is to make sure you have the correct information with your allowable living expenses. A qualified bankruptcy lawyer at Dodge & Vega PLC will be best at helping you see where your money goes every month and whether or not it is even an “allowable” bankruptcy living expense. We have see so many good people spending money on their kids for things like college tuition, extra curricular activities and more, that are all routinely denied by the bankruptcy court. This math is so critical to get so you have negative disposable income at the end of each month in order to qualify under the Means Test Calculation. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is limited to those who are too poor to pay their debts back and not everyone is eligible or qualified to file a chapter 7 Bankruptcy. The intention behind Chapter 7 is to limit it to only those people who cannot genuinely afford to pay back their debts. If after The Means Test Calculation you have positive income (money left over), then it triggers the “presumption of abuse” of the bankruptcy laws and you will not be allowed to file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. All of this because according to the “math” you have money left over to pay down your own debt.
Step 3. Call us, let us help you get qualified. If you haven’t figured out yet how tricky this can be then think again. It truly is best to have a qualified Arizona bankruptcy lawyer look into your particular situation and details of your debts and income and living expenses. A good bankruptcy lawyer will be able to tell how to apply the bankruptcy law in your personal situation and maximize your ability to qualify under The Meas Test. Our telephone number is answered 24/7 480.656.8333, we are here to help.
Come in for your free consultation to see what discounts and price you qualify for! Call us at 480-656-8333 any time night or day and we can get you scheduled to speak with one of our qualified bankruptcy attorneys.
Ben Dodge, Dodge & Vega PLC
Dodge & Vega PLC founded by Ben Dodge, attorney at law. Ben owns and manages a law firm of Affordable Arizona Bankruptcy Lawyers. He is a nationally certified trial attorney, entrepreneur, endurance Athlete, and extreme Ultra Cyclist.
A consultation with experienced Arizona Divorce Attorney Ben Dodge is free
Understanding your rights and what you are entitled too, Ben Dodge is known as a serious litigator. There are two types of attorneys, those that sit behind a desk and push paper and those who actually hit the court room in the real world and get things done. Ben is a litigator who thrives in the court room. He once said: “It is one thing to tell your clients you are a good lawyer, it is an entirely different thing to be willing to prove it to them while they watch you do your work in front of them, in front of a jury watching your every move, in front of a judge, and your peers who are lawyers on the other side if your case. I love the opportunity to go to court and put my money where my mouth is.
In my experience most lawyers are either afraid of the court room or not good at it and belong behind a desk or both.” -Ben Dodge Ben is one a very few lawyers trained in advance litigation skills through the National Institute of Trial Attorneys (NITA) and has earned the designation as a NITA Advocate.
The negotiation tactics and strategies of winning a case are extremely important, but should always take a back row seat to the litigation experience and knowledge of court room rules, local, state, and federal rules of civil procedure that can have significant impact on your case. It is wise to be represented by someone well versed in the law, civil procedures, local and state ordinances, rules, regulations, policies, and even the court room politics that always play out.
Ben Dodge always offers a complimentary in person consultation to all clients. For those who live out of state or are otherwise busy with work, etc. Ben will do a complimentary phone consultation as well. Typically the consultations are scheduled from 30-60 minutes depending on the severity of the case. You can expect to get answers to questions, clarity, information, and reassurance of your personal, family, or business issues. In your free consultation you can generally expect to discuss such topics as:
- What your legal issue is really about.
- Whether or not you have any chance of winning and how to make that possible.
- Our unique and incredible fee structure making Dodge & Vega lawyers affordable for almost any budget.
- Your specific case details, any pictures, police reports, or any other evidence you provide for his review.
- The applicable local, state, and federal laws underlying your case.
- Your rights, obligations, and any potential liability.
- The process, procedure (in and out of court), and the time frame required to conclude your case.
You can call Arizona Lawyer Ben Dodge of Dodge & Vega, PLC at 1.480.656.8333. Mr. Dodge’s staff is standing and ready to accept your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every single day of the year. Someone from our office will personally return your call within 24 hours to schedule an appointment with Mr. Dodge or one o his associate attorneys. There is never an obligation past a complimentary consultation with Mr. Dodge. His passion is in relentless representation and his entire office stands ready to serve with kindness, compassion, and patience. We strive to make a legal experience with our firm one of the most outstanding customer service experiences you will ever have and to do so without you having to go broke! Lawyers can be incredible and affordable. Let us show you how.
Dodge & Vega, PLC
Call Ben Dodge, your incredible Arizona Lawyer today at 1.480.656.8333.
Mr. Dodge can also be reached by email at [email protected]
His main Arizona offices are located at:
Mesa Arizona (home base office)
7227 E. Baseline Rd. STE 109,
Mesa, Arizona 85209
Phoenix Arizona office
2415 e. Camelback Rd., suite 700
Phoenix, Arizona 85016
Tucson Arizona office
One South Church Avenue, 12th Floor
Tucson, Arizona 85701