January 22, 2008

One of the nice things about having a Democratic Congress (and having a bankruptcy "reform" measure that was sloppily written) is that we don't necessarily have to repeal bad legislation in order to neuter it. Case in point: the most recent budget appropriates nothing to the Justice Department for audits of schedules and statements filed with the Bankruptcy Court. This means that in those situations where a debtor's income exceeds the median income for his state, which is the standard the 2005 BARF legislation established as the template for determining that a presumption of a bad faith filing exists in Chapter 7, there is no way to independently challenge a debtor's claim of legitimate expenses above and beyond the IRS norms.

Bowing to reality, this week the United States Trustee suspended its auditing of new Chapter 7 cases. Considering how badly underfunded Chapter 7 Trustees are (most of whom consider the work to be pro bono, or a loss leader, for their law firm), the presumption of bad faith rule, which was the most controversial part of the BARF, is, for the time being, a nullity.

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