File bankruptcy without a social security number?

08 Jan File bankruptcy without a social security number?

Clients frequently ask whether they need a social security number to file bankruptcy.

The answer is no.

Let’s explain this. Nothing in the bankruptcy code requires that you have a social security number to file bankruptcy. Yet, the official bankruptcy forms ask for your social security number. Don’t use somebody else’s number. Don’t use a number you have made up. Don’t use a number unless it was issued by the Social Security Administration.

If you don’t have a social security number, you still want your taxes addressed properly, so use an individual tax identification number or ITIN. You get this from the Internal Revenue Service at www.irs.gov

When you file a bankruptcy petition, you’ll be asked to sign a declaration about your social security number. You can indicate one of the following choices:

  • You have one – so provide it
  • You have an individual tax identification number – so provide that
  • You don’t have one – if you don’t just say so.

The worst choice is to make a false statement about your social security number in your bankruptcy petition. Never, under any circumstances, do that.

People worry that their immigration status will be harmed by bankruptcy. That’s almost never the case. On the other hand, a false statement about a social security number is a crime. That can only hurt your immigration status.

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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.
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