What kinds of debts are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy?

In bankruptcy, a bankruptcy discharge ends a debtor's personal liability on all debts except those otherwise made non-dischargeable. Below are significant categories of non-dischargeable debt. This list is not meant to be comprehensive. This list applies to the chapter 7 discharge in particular. Some debts non-dischargeable in chapter 7 can be discharged in chapter 13.

Certain Taxes

Various recent taxes, taxes without returns, and evaded taxes are non-dischargeable. Debts incurred to pay non-dischargeable taxes are also non-dischargeable.

Domestic Support and Divorce

Domestic support obligations, including alimony and child support, are non-dischargeable. Other debts incurred in divorce or separation, such as a property settlement, are also not discharged. More about alimony and child support in bankruptcy.

Student Loans

Student loans are not discharged in almost all cases. There may be other ways to manage student loan debt.

Fraudulent Debts

Debts incurred by defrauding the creditor as to the debtor's financial condition are non-dischargeable. This category presumptively includes certain cash advances and purchases of luxury goods on credit prior to bankruptcy. Also non-dischargeable are debts from fiduciary fraud, embezzlement, or larceny.

Liability from Certain Wrongdoing

Debts owed for willful and malicious injury are non-dischargeable. Additionally, the discharge does not end liability from driving while intoxicated.

Debts for fraudulently obtaining credit, fiduciary fraud, and willful and malicious injury are only non-dischargeable if the creditor obtains a determination of such in a dischargeability adversary proceeding.

Certain HOA Dues

Post-petition homeowners' association (or similar organization) fees due while the debtor or trustee has ownership are not discharged. This rule does not impact discharegability of due owed prior to filing the particular bankruptcy. A significant consequence of this rule is that the debtor may be liable after bankruptcy for homeowners' association dues on a property that was surrender or foreclosed during the bankruptcy.

Retirement Loans

Retirement plan loans, such as 401(k) loans are not discharged.

Bankruptcy-related Reasons

Unlisted or improperly listed debts that impede the creditor's ability to file a proof of claim are non-dischargeable. Furthermore, debts dating from a previous bankruptcy where the debtor's discharge was denied are non-dischargeable in the current bankruptcy.

Fines and Restitution

Fines and penalties payable to governmental units for their benefit are not discharged. Additionally, federal criminal restitution payments are non-dischargeable.

Less Common Reasons

There's some other non-dischargeable debts that come up infrequently, concerning prisoner court fees, debts incurred for federal elections fines, securities fraud, and certain depository institution related misconduct.

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