Chapter 9 – Is Bankruptcy Bad?

An excerpt from Attorney Peter Francis Geraci’s “The Complete Book on Bankruptcy.” Learn more about misconceptions about bankruptcy!

Chapter 9 – Is Bankruptcy Bad?

Below is an excerpt from Attorney Peter Francis Geraci’s Complete Book on Bankruptcy.

No. Owing money you can’t pay is bad. Money can be used for good or bad purposes. People end up without money because of circumstances beyond their control, or for other reasons. Bankruptcy merely adjusts the debt situation to 0 again. You start out even. You get a fresh start, while still keeping the necessities of life. But the prevailing attitude about bankruptcy is that is “bad.”

This is an interesting perception. The origin of bankruptcy can be found in ancient traditions, as found in the Bible, Deuteronomy 15.1: “In the 7th year, each creditor shall release his debtors. This shall be known as The Lord’s Release.” In the Old Testament, it was the policy that a debt could exist only 6 years, and should be relaxed or forgiven in the seventh year. The purpose was to prevent damage to society by allowing a debt to live forever. The lender was cautioned thereby to lend only as much as the borrower could reasonably be expected to repay.

There are other Biblical references to debt, such as St. Paul’s admonition in Romans 13:8; “Strive to owe no debt, except that debt that binds us to love one another.” I have found nothing in any religion that states that owing money to another is “good.” In the Koran, there is a prohibition against lending money at interest. In most Moslem countries today, Moslems borrow at no interest from “banks of the faithful.”

In modern times, lenders do not follow this idea. In an era where charge cards are sent out through the mail and applications are “pre-approved”, creditors lend money without regard to whether or not the borrower can pay it back. They cover their losses by charging huge rates of interest. I have seen contracts with interest rates as high as 53%. In olden days, this was known as usury. Technically, any lending of money at interest is known as usury. But, until modern times, it was the money lender, or usurer, that was bad, not the poor person who had to borrow.

Of course, capitalism could not exist without the practice of lending capital and charging interest. But bankruptcy laws provide a legitimate, legal, and moral safety valve for the excesses of the credit system. Now, you don’t have to join the French Foreign Legion, disappear to Australia, or blow your brains out, to escape from your creditors. Bankruptcy was so important to the Founding Fathers of the United States, that, when the U.S. Constitution was written in 1787, they directed Congress to make uniform bankruptcy laws. Article III, Section 8 of the United States Constitution states: “Congress shall make uniform laws relating to Bankruptcy.”

Bankruptcy is therefore more fundamental to the United States of America than the Bill of Rights, and such things such as freedom of the press, and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The United States Bankruptcy laws are part of the Federal Code. They were passed into law by the United States Congress, our elected Senators and Representatives. All bankruptcy in the United States is governed by federal law, and the procedures are as much a part of our society as lending money at interest.

After the American Revolution, when the first Continental Congress met in 1787, one of the topics debated was whether or not to have a uniform bankruptcy law. Many of the American settlers had to run from creditors in England. They had to leave the country to avoid being thrown into debtor’s prison. Each American colony had different laws relating to collection of debts. Some had provisions that a person could be jailed for debt, and some, like the colony of Georgia, were havens for debtors and had laws which prevented bad treatment of people who owed money

There was little disagreement between the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, when it came to having a bankruptcy law. Freedom from debt was important, and so was the ability to start fresh. Therefore, in the United States Constitution, Article III, Section 8, we find the provision, “Congress shall make uniform laws relating to bankruptcy.”

However, the banking lobby was so strong that each state kept their own bankruptcy laws until 1898, when the U.S. Bankruptcy Code was passed. It was modified greatly in 1978 to deal with the amazing amount of consumer credit, and is constantly being tinkered with by Congress to balance the interests of those who lend money, and those who borrow it.

Abraham Lincoln was a bankruptcy lawyer. In Springfield, Illinois, Old Abe filed about 1/2 the bankruptcies in Illinois in 1842. 1/2 of his legal work involved debt cases.

It is to the advantage of moneylenders, to use public relations techniques to convince the public that bankruptcy is bad, and to make it something that is bad or evil. I agree that you should not discharge your debts until it is absolutely necessary, but there is certainly nothing wrong or illegal about it. No one comes out to your house and takes your clothes. No one paints a big “B” on the sidewalk in front of your house. In fact, no one is interested.

If you find yourself with no savings, nothing left over after you pay your rent, mortgage, food and utilities, and still have bills to pay, you should consider taking advantage of the fresh start provisions of the bankruptcy law. Bankruptcy is like getting a fresh start. Your debts are forgiven, except those that you want to continue to pay, and you can start saving money and doing things the right way, instead of suffering because of the credit trap.

People come into my office and ask, “What will happen to me if I file a bankruptcy?” No one ever came in, when I used to be a general practice attorney, and said, “What will happen to me if I don’t have get convicted for running a red light?” They never said, “What will happen to me if I sell my house?” But people who are being chased by bill collectors sometimes feel that they should not be able to get relief and that they will be punished if they get a fresh start. They do not realize that a big part of bankruptcy laws is forgiveness.

Nothing will “happen” to you if you file a bankruptcy. You won’t suddenly become rich and famous, or popular, or beautiful or handsome, and, on the other hand, you won’t suddenly be miserable and an outcast. One out of every 22 Illinois families will file for some type of bankruptcy relief, on the average, and in some states, the average is higher.

So, if you have problems with bills, getting the proper advice from a bankruptcy attorney as to whether or not some type of bankruptcy relief would make your life better, should not be looked on as bad. You should think of it as provision in the Federal laws that was put there by Congress to help people get out of debt.

Dial 1-800-CALL-PFG for a free phone mini-consultation, or make an appointment online 24/7 at  Bankruptcy laws are in place to help you.  Who knows bankruptcy like Geraci Law?  Geraci Law has 30,000 5-star reviews 5starsince November 2016!


2019 IRS Tax Deadline is 7/15!

An excerpt from Attorney Peter Francis Geraci’s “The Complete Book on Bankruptcy.” Learn more about IRS tax debt and bankruptcy!

2019 IRS Tax Deadline is 7/15!

With COVID-19, many people may have forgotten about the other 19. That’s your 2019 tax returns! The IRS tax filing deadline is just about 2 weeks away. Filing your tax returns on time is important. Did you know sometimes you can eliminate tax debt with a bankruptcy?

Below is an excerpt from Attorney Peter Francis Geraci’s Complete Book on Bankruptcy.It’s too soon for 2019 taxes to be eliminated but if you have older tax debt, call us. We do a FREE consultation to see if bankruptcy could be a solution.

Chapter 33 – Can I Get Rid of Taxes?

Sometimes, if they are income taxes, you filed a truthful return on time, you just owed the tax and could not pay it, and more than 3 years have passed since the return was due (usually April 15 following the tax year), and the taxes have been assessed and more than 240 days have passed…

There are so many different kinds of taxes and the law is so complicated, that the best answer is: sometimes. Bankruptcy is about the only law more powerful than the IRS. Usually, only income taxes can be discharged. Sales or withholding tax cannot.

In order for income taxes to be dischargeable, you must have

  1. filed your return on time, and
  2. the date you filed your return must be more than 3 years ago. (April 15 is due date but can be April 16 or 18 because of weekends some years)

If your return was filed late, you need only wait two years after it was filed to have your income taxes eligible for discharge. If you didn’t file a return, your income taxes are not eligible for discharge.

If your income taxes do not fall under the above time periods, or if you did not file a return, you may be eligible to force a repayment plan on the IRS, if you have sufficient regular income, by proposing a Chapter 13 Debt Repayment Plan. In a Chapter 13, you can pay past due income taxes over as long as 5 years, with no further interest or penalty, in most cases, and the IRS cannot take collection action during the Chapter 13 Plan. Of course, you must pay any future income taxes on time, and you must file any tax returns not previously filed, as a condition of having your Chapter 13 approved.

There are many other kinds of taxes, and special rules apply to all of them. I make no guarantee that any tax is dischargeable, because of the complexity of the rules, and the policy of not making most taxes dischargeable. We list them on the petition, however, notify the IRS and proper governmental entities, and then if the tax is not discharged, it is possible to work out a repayment plan based on your bankruptcy budget which we prepare.

Problem: Donald and Regina filed their 1982 and 1983 returns on time, but didn’t have the money to pay the $4500 tax due on Donald’s part time job, and Regina’s unemployment money. They also owe $9,000 in unsecured credit. Now they are both working full time, but there is an IRS levy taking 80% on Donald’s check.

The Peter Francis Geraci Chapter 7 or 13 Solution: It appears that they can start fresh with no debt by filing a Chapter 7. Or, they can pay their debt over as long as 60 months, and their payment will be about $250 per month, including all costs.

Note: Unpaid income taxes can build up interest and penalties rapidly, so Chapter 13 cases are great for many tax debts.

Trust fund taxes, such as employee withholding amounts that were never paid to the government, are not dischargeable, although they can be paid back in full in a Chapter 13.

Dial 1-800-CALL-PFG for a free phone mini-consultation, or make an appointment online 24/7 at  Bankruptcy laws are in place to help you.  Who knows bankruptcy like Geraci Law?  Geraci Law has 25,000 5-star reviews 5starsince November 2016!


Chapter 3 – What Causes People to Need to File Bankruptcy

An excerpt from Attorney Peter Francis Geraci’s “The Complete Book on Bankruptcy.”

Chapter 3 – What Causes People to Need to File Bankruptcy

Below is an excerpt from Attorney Peter Francis Geraci’s “The Complete Book On Bankruptcy.”  You can read the rest of the book online at

If you need help or have questions – our experienced staff is ready to help. Dial 1-800-CALL-PFG for a free phone mini-consultation, or make an appointment online 24/7 at  Bankruptcy laws are in place to help you.  Who knows bankruptcy like Geraci Law?  Geraci Law has 25,000 5-star reviews 5starsince November 2016!


This is an easy one. Because most stuff other than bankruptcy is fraudulent. That means someone somewhere, on the internet, or maybe in Russia, or maybe your own bank, wants your money, and will say anything to get it.

1. “bill consolidation” is usually a fraud scheme There is no way to “consolidate” all your bills into one lower payment you can afford, pay your vehicles and mortgage and tax debt first, and stop every single creditor from bothering you, adding late charges, or suing you. No way. None. Nada. Except for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Oh, there’s that word again “bankruptcy.”

2. “Loan modification” Fraud schemes like “Legal Helpers Loan Modification” just stole people’s money and disappeared with millions. Banks usually string you along for months and lose your paperwork, making things worse. Then all they do is take your 30 year loan and turn it into a 40 year loan to “get” you a lower payment. Great, now you’ll die before you pay them off and they’ll get your house back after collection mostly interest payments.

3. “Credit Counseling” Possibly the worst fraud. Some of them pose as law firms. Some are “lawyers” who really should be in jail. Being a lawyer makes them try to take as much as the first year’s payments up front as fees”. They usually last a year before getting indicted and put out of business.

4. “Debt settlement” Definitely the worst. Run, do not walk, as fast as you can from these skunks. Legal Helpers Debt Resolution” and others stole $50 million or more and faded into the night. Their imitators are still around, and so are the lawyers involved. They only lost their law licenses for a couple years. Nice payday on your money!

All these schemes play on your guilty, embarrassment and confusion. They can’t stop late fees, repossessions, lawsuits, foreclosures, license suspension, or anything else. So, beware of “bill consolidation, mortgage modifiers, debt settlement and credit counseling”. We usually see folks who have paid $3,000 to $5,000 to bill consolidators, and have nothing to show to it, when they could have filed Chapter 7 or 13 and really solved their problems and gotten a true fresh start.

Bankruptcy is very predictable. Everything is in writing, and while there are a lot of stupid lawyers who do lose $3000 or $5000 of their client’s money in Chapter 7’s, and take Chapter 13 cases that fail quickly after they get paid, Geraci Law does not engage in shady practices. So why pay the same, and not get the name? Ask your friends and family, and even your boss at work. Chances are they’ll say, “talk to Geraci Law.”

Dial 1-800-CALL-PFG for a free phone mini-consultation, or make an appointment online 24/7 at  Bankruptcy laws are in place to help you.  Who knows bankruptcy like Geraci Law?  Geraci Law has 25,000 5-star reviews 5starsince November 2016!