Getting That Fresh Start During The Tax Refund Season

         The New Year has passed and New Year’s Resolutions seem a distant memory. However, one resolution needs to be revisited – wiping out or managing your debt. If you are stressed out by the inability to keep up with your credit card bills, your house payments, your personal loans, and the like, there is something you can do about it. If creditors are hounding you and you can’t sleep at night and you need meds, there is something you can do about it. If your credit card minimums are through the roof, or you just can’t make any payments, there is something you can do.

          Bankruptcy may be a solution to your problems or maybe not. It is time to explore this alternative. Some people think that filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will result in the denial of future credit for ten years. In fact, this is not so. It may appear on your credit report for ten years but the anecdotal history of my clients reporting their experience to me over the thirty (30) of practicing consumer bankruptcy suggests that it may only take two years to sufficiently repair your credit for you to get a house, co-op or condo. It is not an automatic that you get your credit back; it takes a deliberate strategy of getting a secured credit card at first and always using the card and paying off the balance each month so that your new record of timely payments will lead to offers for unsecured credit cards. An incremental, step-by-step approach to fixing your credit will enable you to get back in the credit scene in short order.

         If you want to explore this option, call the Bronx/Westchester Bankruptcy Attorney for a free telephone consultation. A fresh start may begin here and now. 718 881-7964.

New Developments in the Credit Score World for 2019

Starting in 2019 consumers will have the opportunity to provide to Experian additional information to the company via their cellphone and utility history in order to bolster and mitigate their credit history. This will help many consumers seeking to repair their credit after a bankruptcy, or repairing troublesome credit, as well as assisting others who have little or no credit history with banks. This is part of the industry trend from governmental pressures and market trends to liberalize the availability of credit for the less then perfect borrowers. The three major players in the industry, Experian, Equifax, Inc and Transunion have all already removed notations regarding tax liens judgement in line with these developments. The Fico score may also soon take into consideration in a pilot project with Experian, the history and management of ones checking and savings account as as indicator of managing ones debts. The projected net result of these changes according to Experian will lead to an immediate increase in credit scores for the average person, thus improving the chances of obtaining, credit cards, personal loans, and auto loans.
If you are in financial trouble and you need some help, call David J. Babel, the Bronx/Westchester bankruptcy attorney for over 30 years and receive a free telephone consultation


Its very commonplace for a client to visit a bankruptcy attorney. when he or she is about to be garnished by the employer. The client ultimately files a Chapter 7 and wipes out all of his dischargeable debt, generally credit cards, loans and credit card bills. How about the garnishment monies taken prior to the bankruptcy? Do you get that back? The answer may be yes, but it depends. If $600 or more was taken within the ninety day(90) period prior to the filing of the bankruptcy, it may be deemed a preference to that one creditor. If the creditor refuses to return those monies, then the attorney may commence an adversarial proceeding to recover those funds as a preferential transfer for the benefit of that creditor to the detriment of all other creditors. In simple language, the creditor may need to give back all the monies during that 90 day period. Not all attorneys are tuned into this. This is a nuance area of the law so you may need someone to fight for your rights and you need to get firm legal advice. If you need a Bronx/Westchester bankruptcy attorney, call for a free telephone consultation.

2, 4, 6, 8 | Rules for Refiling a Bankruptcy

Photo Credit: Merna Law

There are many reasons why you might need to filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy a second time; but, you need to know the rules of the road with the help of a knowledgeable and solid bankruptcy attorney.

2 Year Rule

This applies when you have successfully completed a Chapter 13 (you received your discharge) and need to file again. This may occur because you may owe post-filing taxes or mortgage arrears. You may file again and receive a discharge if two year elapsed from the date of the first filing. Thus, if you filed a Chapter 13 on March 1, 2011 and receive a discharge on March 1, 2016, you may immediately file another Chapter 13 and get a discharge. The two year period is measured from date of the first filing to the date of the second filing. Thus, almost everyone will be eligible in this scenario to file and get a discharge because almost all successful Chapter 13 bankruptcies take longer than 2 years to complete.

4 Year Rule

This applies when you have successfully completed a Chapter 7 (received a discharge) and wish to file a Chapter 13. This may occur because you owe taxes that were non-dischargeable in the Chapter 13 or you may wish to wipe out a totally underwater 2nd mortgage that could not be done in a Chapter 7. This does not mean that could not file a Chapter until 4 years after a Chapter 7. You could but you will not receive a formal discharge notice. In many cases, it will not be necessary to have the discharge. Once again, the 4 year period is measured from date of the first filing to the date of the second filing.

6 Year Rule

This applies when you have successfully completed a Chapter 13 and now wish to file a Chapter 7. In order to receive a discharge in the subsequent filing, there is a look back to the previous Chapter 13. If 6 years have gone by from date of filing on the Chapter 13 to the date of filing on the Chapter 7, you will be eligible to receive a discharge in the Chapter 7. However, you still may get a discharge in less than 6 years if you paid back 100% of your debts in the prior Chapter 13 or you if paid back 70% of your debts and the plan was both proposed in good faith and was your best efforts. This is a little more complicated that the other rules and will need an experienced Bronx/Westchester attorney to assist you.

8 Year Rule

This applies when you have successfully completed a Chapter 7 and now wish to file another Chapter 7. Once again, the measuring period is from the date of filing of the first bankruptcy to the date of filing for the second Chapter 7.

These rules can be highly nuanced and the choice of refiling can be very tricky. You should only consult a competent and experienced Bronx/Westchester consumer bankruptcy attorney before making such a decision. There are so many traps for the unwary.

Good News for a Short Sale Option- The Extension of the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act

If you have completed a short sale during 2015 or are contemplating a short sale in 2016, there is good news.

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act recently passed by Congress in December and signed into law by President Obama forgives any cancellation of debt in both 2015 and now in 2016 as a result of a short sale. Thus, if you entered into or will enter into any short sale arrangement wherein the bank forgives the difference between the amount owed and the purchase price, there will be no tax consequences provided that:

  • the house has been used as your principal residence for at least two of the previous five year
  • The mortgage was used for the purchase of the house or used to make significant improvements to the property; and
  • The debt forgiven was for a sum no greater than $2 million dollars.

Thus, for homeowners who have used their property as their primary residence and wish to unload this property (which may be a financial burden to them as well as a nuisance-city violations and potential squatters as examples if the property has already been vacated), this can be quite a blessing. As a result of a short sale, you would not owe any money to the bank, assuming the bank agrees, and you would not owe money to IRS if you satisfy all of the above conditions.

The best advice is to seek legal counsel from an experienced Bronx and Westchester bankruptcy and real estate attorney who will explain the pros and cons of a short sale transaction versus filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy

Bankruptcy Documents Get a Real Overhaul

Effective December 1, 2015, the bankruptcy forms get a serious overhaul. In an effort to simplify the forms and provide an easier forum for pro se debtors (debtors filing without the benefit of an attorney) to file a bankruptcy, the forms underwent major revisions. However, as they say, the best of plans are often led astray. What used to be a three page petition portion of the bankruptcy filing has turned into an 8 page portion. There is so much information within the new forms, arguably to assist and clarify issues. But the clutter just makes it harder to manage and more difficult to understand.

When listing creditors, the forms have combined tax debts (priority debts and general unsecured debts (mostly standard credit cards, store cards, and personal loans) into one form. You are required to list those general unsecured debts in Part 2 and then link any additional notice creditors or collection agencies listings to its respective creditors so that the latter appear only in Part 3. It seems a challenge even for the initiated (attorneys and staff) and troublesome to overwhelming for the uninitiated (pro se debtors).

This change seems to have more twists and turns than bankruptcy forms made easy or the effort to write forms that mimic the series- “bankruptcy for dummies”.

If you need an experience Bronx and Westchester bankruptcy attorney to help you sort out this mess, call our office for a free telephone consultation.


It is commonly asked by prospective bankruptcy clients if they will be able to keep their primary residence while filing a Chapter 7 or in the alternative whether they need to do a Chapter 13 to accomplish the same. So much depends upon the value of the property, the mortgage payoff(s), and the exemption permissible under the law. If you live in New York City and many of the surrounding counties, you are allowed what is known as a homestead exemption.

The exemption was increased from $50,000 to $150,000, effective January 21, 2011. The law also provided for automatic adjustments based upon the Consumer Price Index every three years, starting with April 1, 2012. There was hardly a soul in the bankruptcy community who knew that the exemption was increased in 2012 to $157,600 and more recently increased to $165,500 as of April 1, 2015.Some trustees and even bankruptcy judges are still not yet familiar with these changes. It can make a world of difference in qualifying for a Chapter 7 or what you pay in a Chapter 13.

It pays to find an experienced attorney in the Bronx and Westchester community who knows the law. I guess the secret is out and we can’t make up for lost time .It is a matter of dollar and cents and SENSE.

Obama’s Loan Modification Program Gets a Bad Report Card

A recently released study by Cristy L. Romera, as reported in the New York Times, charged by the government to monitor the progress of government loan modifications, has announced that 72 percent of applications by borrowers have been rejected. Citibank, Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, are amongst the worst offenders. Their percentage rejection rates are: 87, 84, 80, and 60. Thus from the period of 2009 through approximately 2014 there were 4 million applications for a government loan modification of which only 881,000 received some sort of mortgage relief. The bank are notorious for slowing down the process by misplacing documents, losing documents, requesting the same documents more than once, and other requests that just add time to a speedy resolution for a loan modification request. Although the banks may reject the numbers and analysis with this report, for anyone involved in the loan modification process understand the obstacles bank impose for a timely review. Some people believe that bank have a financial interest in delaying the process and intentionally slow down the process for the purpose of jacking up the ultimate mortgage obligation by the borrower. Others believe that the banks are just plainly negligent and disrespectful of the process. In either scenario, so many borrowers lose their home, lose hope, and lose faith in the system. If you need a Bronx/Westchester attorney to help you with your mortgage issues, call David J. Babel, Esq., P.C.

Changes Proposed to Shorten Foreclosure Time Process in New York

Individuals who are seriously delinquent with their mortgage payments or for those who have actually received that thick packet of foreclosure papers have one very important concern. They want to know how long they have to live in their house before they am thrown out. In New York it takes an average of over 900 days or 2.5 years to complete the foreclosure process. This is double the national average according to a recent New York Law Journal article. The reason for the delay is the settlement conferences that are mandated in New York between the borrower and bank representative mediated by a referee. The purpose is to provide a mechanism and opportunity for both parties to negotiate in good faith towards a resolution of the delinquency. In most cases there is an attempt to facilitate a potential loan modification provided by the bank to the borrower. However, these meetings get bogged down by both sides. The banks often do not have representative at these who have the authority to make a decision. Banks are notorious for misplacing documents. Borrowers are often remiss in providing all the documents in a timely manner. There are numerous adjournments and lots of finger pointing. Who acted in good faith? Who acted in bad faith? In the meantime, the foreclosure cases stay on the court docket for years. The New York State Department of Financial Services is proposes changes to accelerate the process, especially for those homes that have been abandoned by the homeowner. Additionally, the proposed law would enable the referee hearing these cases to impose sanctions upon the wrongdoer, be it the borrower or the lender. Time will tell if the backlog of foreclosure cases will be substantially reduced with any new legal provisions affecting the foreclosure process. For now you will not be thrown out so quickly. Stay tuned. If you need an experienced Bronx/Westchester attorney, call our office.

Extended Foreclosure May Result in Lender’s Loss and Borrower’s Gain

For years many lenders have started foreclosure actions but have failed to conclude the legal matter. Some foreclosure defense attorneys are using the statute of limitations as a defense for which six years may have elapsed since the mortgage lender has declared the loan immediately due and payable, also known as acceleration.

The New York Law Journal reports in a recent article that there are 92,000 pending foreclosures in New York and an unknown number of cases may fall into this potential situation where the banks’ foreclosure claims would be time-barred as a result of their tardiness. However, even if the bank can’t foreclose, they still have a lien on the property. The homeowner, if successful with this defense, would have the right to live there without fear of being thrown out, but would have to square up with the bank if they ever refinanced or decided to sell the property. That would be quite a conundrum.

In one Suffolk County case, the judge dismissed the foreclosure case because the bank unduly and unreasonably delayed in pursuing the matter. It is being appealed by the lender. The simplest solution would be for the banks to offer loan modifications at the outset or speedily go through the foreclosure process to obtain title or sell the property at an auction sale. Maybe the thought of losing the ability to foreclosure will spur the banks to make more timely decisions along the way.

If you are contemplating bankruptcy as a result of credit card debts, medical bills, taxes, or mortgage arrears, consult an experienced Bronx/Westchester attorney.