Means Test: Don’t Give Up, Even If You Think You’ve Flunked It, Part 12

14 Feb Means Test: Don’t Give Up, Even If You Think You’ve Flunked It, Part 12

Line 32 of Form B22A (the means test form for chapter 7), and Line 37 of Form B22C (the means test form for chapter 13), reads as follows:

Other Necessary Expenses: telecommunications services. Enter the total average monthly amount that you actually pay for telecommunications services other than your basic home telephone and cell phone service — such as pagers, call waiting, caller ID, special long distance, or internet service — to the extent necessary for your health and welfare or that of your dependents. Do not include any amount previously deducted.

Be sure you have included the items listed above as expenses on your means test form, unless you cannot say the items are necessary for your health and welfare.

For many persons, an extra home phone land line, an extra cell phone, a pager, caller ID, and internet service, are necessary for health and welfare, if you are paying for those items. If you have teenagers using the telephone, or a home based business, an extra phone line might be needed. A pager could be needed for the same reasons. Caller ID and call waiting are viewed by most persons as necessary for health and welfare. Internet service is necessary if you have school age children, and it is necessary for most persons for recreation, communication, and possibly employment.

Cable TV is certainly a telecommunications expense. After all, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 dealt largely with an overhaul of the federal regulation of cable TV. Due the huge diversity of programming available on cable TV, is should not be hard to establish that some of that is necessary for your health and welfare, especially if you have school age children or special employment needs.

As long as you can provide good reasons that you or your dependents need the listed telecommunications expenses, these expenses should be allowed. Claiming each and every possible expense on the means test form is important, and should produce a more favorable result in your bankruptcy case.

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Craig W. Andresen is a consumer bankruptcy lawyer in Bloomington, Minnesota, with 22 years’ experience in consumer and small business bankruptcy cases. He is the Minnesota chair of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, and is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Bankruptcy Section. Mr. Andresen lectures often on the topic of consumer bankruptcy at local and national legal seminars.
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