The “Special” Means Test Categories: What You Need To Know

25 Feb The “Special” Means Test Categories: What You Need To Know

Some of the categories of expense on the bankruptcy means test form (Form B22A for chapter 7, Form B22C for chapter 13) are “special.” This is because unlike the categories which use an IRS standard allowance to determine one of your household living expenses, the “special” categories use the actual expenses you incur for that type of expense.

Because the “special” categories on the means test contain your actual expenses, it is important that you carefully explain to your bankruptcy lawyer exactly how you spend on such items. This can go a long way toward making sure you “pass” the means test, if you are filing a chapter 7 case, and it can also help reduce your minimum payment in a chapter 13 case.

The “special” means test categories are:

  • taxes withheld from your paychecks;
  • other deductions from your paychecks required by your employer;
  • health care expenses;
  • your monthly mortgage, homeowners insurance, homeowners association, and property tax payments;
  • other secured debt payments if they continue for more than five years;
  • life insurance premiums;
  • health insurance premiums or health savings accounts;
  • child support and spousal maintenance;
  • education costs necessary for your employment;
  • education costs necessary for a handicapped dependent child;
  • telecommunications expenses, such as pagers, call waiting, caller ID, special long distance, internet service, and probably cable TV;
  • charitable contributions;
  • costs incurred caring for elderly or disabled family members; and
  • expenses incurred protecting your family under the federal Family Violence Prevention and Services Act.

Expenses incurred for the above categories are “special” because the means test form allows you to claim an expense, dollar for dollar, for the amounts you actually spend on these items. You can obtain a major advantage in completing the means test form if you pay close attention to giving your lawyer a list of these expenses.

Additionally, neither your creditors nor the trustee of your case can object to your claiming these expenses, because Congress has stated quite clearly in the bankruptcy law that you are entitled to claim them.

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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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