To Our Clients & Prospective Clients -- As of March 18, 2020, Starr & Starr, PLLC remains open for business during the current Corona virus (COVID-19) crisis. We remain in communications with our clients by phone, email and our secure file share site. We are scheduling telephone consultations by phone and video chat. At this time the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts, the U.S. District Courts and New York State Court system are all open. We are continuing to file new cases and process our existing cases.

We hope everyone stays safe throughout these difficult times.

Articles Posted in Chapter 11

New York is a destination for many people relocating here for work, school or personal reasons. Many people are surprised to find out how expensive the cost of living is here compared to many other parts of the country. Many people underestimate their costs of housing and other living expenses which causes a lot of problems for their budget.

A common question we get asked is “How long do I have to live in New York before I can file for bankruptcy here?”

The rule is that you have to have lived here more in the past 180 days than anywhere else. So, for example, if someone moved here from Ohio, she would need to live in New York at least 91 days before she could file for bankruptcy here.
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If you have past-due tax debt that you owe to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), New York State Department of Taxation & Finance (NYS Tax), and/or New York City Department of Taxation (NYC Tax) you know that the government authorities can be very aggressive in enforcing back due taxes.

1. Problems & Risk of Owing Past-Due Tax Debts.

If you have past-due taxes the balances continue to grow over time because of interest and penalties. The government can intercept any tax refunds that you are entitled to receive from them and apply the money against your past-due taxes. They can garnish your wages. They can put a lien on your assets. They can seize your bank accounts, car, house and other properties.

2. Bankruptcy Solutions to Tax Problems.

For many people with past-due taxes bankruptcy may be a way to either (a) get their finances affairs in order so they have money to deal with the taxes, or (b) a way to wipe out the taxes.

a) Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Solutions.

In the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on our website Will all my debts get discharged (wiped out) in bankruptcy?) we have provided a general overview of the rules regarding discharging debt in a personal bankruptcy filing. For some people filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy will be a way that they can permanently eliminate their past-due taxes without having to pay them. To figure our whether or not your taxes can be wiped out in bankruptcy you will need to know exactly what taxes you owe and for what years. You can contact the IRS, NYS Tax and NYC Tax and follow their procedures to order copies of your “tax transcript” for each tax year you have an unpaid balance. We have successfully used chapter 7 bankruptcy to help many of our clients permanently eliminate their taxes.
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The purpose of this blog post is to provide information about bankruptcy to the gay and lesbian community in New York City that uniquely affects them.

As a result of the 2005 changes to the Bankruptcy Code, for gays and lesbians considering filing for personal bankruptcy there are certain things they will need to consider. In addition, there are certain provisions of the Bankruptcy Code that may affect the rights of gays and lesbians differently than heterosexuals.

First of all, for consumer debtors (i.e., debtors whose debts are primarily for personal, family or household debts and not for a business), the 2005 amendments to the Bankruptcy Code established means testing (see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) of the Starr & Starr, PLLC website: What is the “means test” for chapter 7 and why is it important? ).
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Student Loans Problems in New York City

Many people in New York, and particularly in Manhattan, have large student loans for undergraduate and graduate college education. A student loan debtor (person who owes money for a student loan) can often obtain deferment or consolidation of his or her student loans to delay making payment or lower the payments. However, for people with very large student loans and income that is lower than they had anticipated, student loans can be an enormous problem. This is especially the case for someone who never finished his or her course of study or obtained a degree, or obtained a degree for which there is not much demand in the marketplace. In addition, if someone obtained an expensive graduate degree, such as medicine or law, but but is working in a lower paying field than his or her field of study this is particularly a problem. Finally, the cost of living in New York is one of the highest in the country and people living here have a significantly higher cost of living than in many other states.

Due to changes in the law regarding student loans, there is no statute of limitation for student loans — meaning the loans do not become unenforceable by the passage of time. This means that long after someone is out of school he or she can still be saddled with high student loans.
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A recent article on MSNBC (NYC restaurants slammed by financial crisis) details the problems currently faced by NYC restaurants. NYC restaurant owners are reporting a significant drop in business in wake of the recent financial crisis. They also have some of the highest rent in the country for space, and face high food, employee, and insurance costs. Faced with a significant drop in revenue, restaurant owners may not survive if they continue to do “business as usual” and will need to adapt to changing market conditions. In exploring their options, restaurant owners and investors should consider all available options, including the bankruptcy restructuring options that are the focus of this blog post. Bankruptcy is not a panacea and is something to consider when other options (such as obtaining additional investment, consolidation of space, altering menus and pricing, etc.) have been fully explored. However, bankruptcy presents some useful tools to NYC restaurant owners and investors that need to be understood.

1. Ability to Sell Below Market Lease Without Landlord Consent.

Often a below market lease in New York City may be one of a restaurant’s most valuable tangible assets. Most commercial leases in NY contain extensive restrictions on a tenant’s ability to sell or sublet space. In bankruptcy, however, a debtor in possession (in a chapter 11 reorganization or liquidation case) or trustee in a (chapter 7 liquidation case) has the ability to “assume and assign” a lease even though the landlord does not agree. The right to do this is not absolute and the replacement tenant must be able to establish an adequate ability to perform under the lease. In addition, defaults under the lease must be cured (or adequate assurance of prompt cure provided) in connection with any sale of the lease. The key point is that in a bankruptcy it may be possible for the value in the lease to be realized even if the tenant is in default under the lease and has been sued for nonpayment of rent (as long as the lease has not yet been terminated). Utilizing this option may allow an unprofitable restaurant to move to another location with cheaper rent where is could be profitable.
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As we see increasing amounts of foreclosure throughout the New York metropolitan area, in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island, Westchester County, Nassau County and Suffolk County, our office (Starr & Starr, PLLC in Manhattan) get many inquiries about whether bankruptcy can be used to save a home facing foreclosure or deal with an adjustable rate mortgage that has reset to monthly payments that the homeowner can no longer afford.

A recent post on our blog New York Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Eligibility Requirements and Issues addressed the limitations that Chapter 13 bankruptcy has. One very significant limitation is that secured debt can’t exceed $1,010,650. Many condo and co-op apartments and houses in New York (particularly Manhattan, Nassau County, Suffolk County and Westchester County) have debt in excess of this amount based on multiple secured loans and liens, such as first mortgage, second mortgage, and home equity loan (and sometimes also tax liens).

As we also detailed in our prior blog posting, Commonly Encountered Problems in NY Chapter 13 Chapter 13 can’t be used to modified the rights of a lender secured by the debtor’s principal residence. However, Chapter 11 bankruptcy can
Eligibility Requirements for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy:

Unlike Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 there is no eligibility requirement for Chapter 11.

How Chapter 11 Works

The goal of a Chapter 11 case is to confirm a plan of reorganization. That plan, which creditors get to vote on and is subject to Bankruptcy Court approval, details the debtor’s proposed treatment of creditors.

Modification of Loans. In Chapter 11 a debtor can seek to modify loans secured by his/her home (or other property). If the value of the debtor’s home has fallen significantly, the debtor may be able to split a mortgage creditor’s claim into two parts: one that is secured and one that is unsecured.
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