Filing for Insolvency and Ways to Avoid It

Insolvency refers to the inability of companies and individuals to meet their debt obligations. Lenders can file a lawsuit against debtors and liquidate their assets to pay off the outstanding balance. While insolvency proceedings and bankruptcy are a last resort, borrowers usually negotiate with creditors on alternative repayment options.

Reasons for Insolvency

There are different reasons why individuals and companies are unable to repay their debts. These include high cash outflows and low inflows, poor money management, expensive divorce proceedings, illness, loss of income, death in the family, and others. Other reasons are poor investment decisions and asset management, insufficient liquidity, and high cost structure. Poor investment decisions are one of the main reasons why insolvency occurs. Many individuals and companies make high risk investments and lose money as a result. Conflicts between managers and employees are another reason while inadequate control also results in high cash outflows. Other factors that play a role include the state of the economy, weak industry sectors, and lack of skilled workforce. Investing in high-risk projects and companies as well as lack of knowledge and expertise in project management and business operations can also lead to inability to pay off debt.

Insolvency Proceedings

The rules and regulations that govern the proceedings depend on the country and jurisdiction. Debtors don’t have to file for bankruptcy or file a consumer proposal to be considered insolvent. This happens when the borrower’s liabilities and debts exceed his income and assets. Some debts can be cancelled by financial institutions, including credit cards and home equity loans. Banks and other commercial lenders may forgive or cancel debts. They count as income because borrowers are not required to repay their outstanding balances any longer. Cancelled debt is not taxable in all cases, meaning that there are certain exclusions. When debtors file for bankruptcy, their obligations are not counted as taxable income. Farm loans do not count as taxable income under certain conditions. Note that investment properties, vacation homes, cottages, and second homes are not considered exclusions for tax purposes. Mortgage loans do not qualify unless the proceeds were used to purchase a real estate, build a house, or make home improvements. The rules and proceedings are complex, and it is best to use the services of a tax professional. Insolvency is an option for debtors who have exhausted all alternatives and don’t qualify for debt relief.

What to Do Before Filing

The first step is to list all valuable items and assets that are liquid, i.e. you can sell them for cash. These include antiques, jewelry, works of art, vehicles, second homes, and investments. Check what their market value is and how liquid they are. The next step is to list your outstanding obligations to banks, credit card companies, credit unions, and other lenders. These include personal, student, and auto loans, credit card debt, payday loans, and utility bills. Compare the liabilities and assets you have included in the financial statement. You can file insolvency if your outstanding balances exceed the market value of your house and other assets. Send the financial statement to the IRS, along with your tax return, as proof that you are unable to pay off your debts.

Alternatives to Insolvency

There are ways to avoid foreclosure and insolvency, and one option is to sell some valuable assets or real estate. Other alternatives include debt settlement, counseling, and negotiation. Many financial institutions are willing to offer alternative terms of repayment and lower interest rates to customers who are about to default. This makes monthly payments more affordable although borrowers end up paying more in the long term. Debt consolidation is another option that involves consolidating multiple loans and credit cards. It is not an option for borrowers who have secured debt. Finally, borrowers can opt for credit counseling to learn how to budget and manage debt.

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