What tax return filing date requirements must I meet in order to apply for bankruptcy relief of my IRS tax debt?

Even the most responsible taxpayers can find themselves in a situation where they are unable to pay their creditors, and sometimes one of those creditors is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Owing taxes to the IRS is often a stressful experience, but in some cases, filing for bankruptcy may be an alternative solution for resolving your IRS tax issues. To qualify, however, certain strict requirements must be met. One such requirement is that the tax return pertaining to the debt was filed at least two years before filing for bankruptcy.

Relieving Debt Through Bankruptcy Is Not Quite as Easy as it Sounds

While at first glance this requirement may seem straightforward, it is not as easily met as you might think. To qualify, in addition to the two-year rule, you must also meet the following criteria:

  • The IRS cannot have filed a substitute for return, as this does not satisfy the requirement
  • The return must have been properly signed
  • The return must have been properly mailed
  • The return must have been sufficiently complete to be deemed a tax return


What does this mean? Consider the following example:

  • Taxes were disclosed in a 2010 income tax return.
  • Extensions to file the return expired on October 15, 2011.
  • You filed the return on April 15, 2013.
  • You filed for bankruptcy on October 15, 2014.


Using these facts, you would have satisfied the tax return due date test, an additional requirement for discharging income tax debt as part of a bankruptcy. However, you will not have met the tax return filing date test. Instead, you must wait until April 15, 2015 before filing for bankruptcy.

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