Can Filing Fees for Filing Bankruptcy Be Waived?

by Jay Fleischman, Esq.

April 20, 2008

The 2005 amendments to the Bankruptcy Code added 28 U.S.C. Section 1930(f)(1) which provides for the waiver of Chapter 7 filing fees. This provision is implemented through Bankruptcy Rule 1006(c). However, a debtor’s application requesting a fee waiver must be filed along with the voluntary bankruptcy petition. The debtor’s income must be less than 150% of the applicable official poverty line based on family size to be eligible for a Chapter 7 filing fee waiver. The poverty figures may be found at http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty. To determine the income eligibility, a debtor must include a non-filing spouse’s income (unless the spouses are separated) and the monthly net income of any dependents of the debtor who are part of the debtor’s stated family size. In addition to this income test, the debtor must be unable to pay the filing fee in installments.

The filing fee cannot be waived in a Chapter 13 case but can be paid in up to four installments over a period of 120 days (or up to 180 days with court permission. If the debtor fails to pay any of the installments a deficiency notice will be issued or an order to show cause why the installment was not made and the case may be dismissed.

If a debtor converts a case from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7, the debtor may seek a waiver of any unpaid filing fees. However, if the debtor converts from Chapter 7 to Chapter 13, the debtor must then pay the Chapter 13 filing fee.

Court fees for filing amendments to the debtor’s schedules of creditors and for motions to convert a case to Chapter 7 may be waived if a filing fee waiver is granted when the debtor initially files a Chapter 7 case. This authority is granted to the court under 28 U.S.C. Section 1930(f)(2).

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Jay S. Fleischman is a bankruptcy lawyer with offices in Los Angeles and New York. He can often be found on Google+ and Twitter, where he shares information about consumer protection issues and personal finance.

Last modified: April 20, 2008