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That depends on how old, exactly, the tax debt is. Most recent tax debt cannot be discharged in a chapter 7 bankruptcy, but if it meets 5 relatively narrow criteria, the debt may be dischargeable either in a chapter 7 discharge or a chapter 13 repayment plan.
(1) The due date for filing the tax return that the taxes should have been filed in is at least 3 years prior to the date that the bankruptcy petition is filed.
(2) The return involved was filed at least 2 years prior to the date of the bankruptcy petition.
(3) The assessment for the tax, from either the IRS or the relevant state revenue agency is at least 240 days old.
(4) The tax return was not filed fraudulently (meaning there were no intentional misrepresentations on the return).
(5) The person who owes the tax is not in some way guilty of tax evasion.
If each of those requirements is met, then the back tax is likely dischargeable. It is important to note that one of the key factors here is that no tax for a return that was never filed is dischargeable. So, if a return was not filed, and a tax was still assessed, these are never dischargeable.
So, in short, there are very limited circumstances in which back taxes may be dischargeable, and the taxes must meet the 5 criteria above. If the goal of a bankruptcy is to discharge old tax debt, it would be advisable to seek the assistance of an attorney in filing the bankruptcy petition, as taxes can be a complicated issue to resolve, and the taxing agency is often more likely than other types of creditors to challenge the dischargeability of a debt, making the assistance of an experienced bankruptcy attorney invaluable.
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