Clients come into my office every week saying that they are in a debt settlement plan, BUT are now being sued by a creditor or they have received a 1099c income statement from a creditor that was included in the debt settlement plan. How can this be?
First, just because you are in a debt settlement plan, it does not mean that a creditor cannot sue you on account. It happens every day. In some cases, the lawsuit is because a debt could not be included in the settlement because a creditor would not agree. In other cases, the reason for the lawsuit was that the creditor was not receiving payments from the debt settlement plan in an amount that would satisfy the creditor.
Second, just because you are in a debt settlement plan, it does not mean that the creditor will not issue you a 1099c for that portion of the debt which is forgiven. In fact, the IRS REQUIRES creditors to issue a 1099c to individuals where more than $600 in debt is forgiven. Therefore, if you settle with a VISA for $5,000 on a $50,000 bill, you will receive a $45,000 1099c which will be considered income to you and will be taxed at your current tax rate.
Third, just because you are in a debt settlement/consolidation plan, it does not mean that your credit will not affected or that creditors will stop calling you. Creditors can still contact you for the collection of debts they are owed unless or until you file bankruptcy. Also, a debt settlement program will impact your credit in the future and have long-term side effects because you will have late payments and even when you settle, your credit report will not show that the account was paid in full.
Debt settlement plans are alternatives to bankruptcy. If you do not qualify for bankruptcy, then you will have no choice but to proceed with the settlement or consolidation plan. However, most people DO qualify for bankruptcy and in fact, most qualify for a Chapter 7 which requires NO payments back to creditors. Even, if you do not qualify for a Chapter 7, the payments in Chapter 13 will in almost every instance be significantly lower than what you are paying to the debt settlement or consolidation company. Better yet, there will be no 1099c received after the bankruptcy because Bankruptcy is one of the exceptions to the debt forgiveness rule.
In conclusion, these are very tough times. You are not alone. If you are having trouble paying your bills as they come due, I recommend you seek legal counsel before you enter into a debt settlement or consolidation plan. Know all of your options and then you will be able to make the best decision for you and your family. I see people for a FREE 30 minute consultation at my offices locate in Walnut Creek, Antioch and Brentwood.
THIS INFORMATION IS NOT PROVIDED AS LEGAL ADVICE AND SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON IN MAKING ANY DECISION REGARDING A VOLUNTARY DEFAULT, SHORT SALE, FORECLOSURE OR BANKRUPTCY. THIS INFORMATION IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR OBTAINING TAX & LEGAL ADVICE REGARDING AN INDIVIDUAL SITUATION. GRIMESBKLAW.COM (925) 323-7772 © 2011 Joan Grimes