Debt Settlement Advice

Debt settlement companies and debt negotiation companies frequently over-promise.  They may offer to settle your debts for a fraction of the balance, but can’t guarantee that you won’t ruin your credit and get sued anyway. When clients get sued and face the possibility of garnishment, they discover that bankruptcy may be the best option.

Even if a debtor is successful in settling several debts, they sometimes don’t realize that the “forgiven debt” might be reported to the IRS as income on Form 1099-C. If you fail to report the income on your tax return, the IRS could send you a bill for the taxes owed.

One way to avoid the possibility of receiving an IRS Form 1099-C is to file for bankruptcy protection. Debt that is discharged in bankruptcy is not considered income, and will not trigger a new tax liability. If you are insolvent at the time a IRS Form 1099-C is filed, you should contact an attorney or tax adviser to see if there is a way to avoid the tax liability arising from forgiven debt.

Unfortunately, many debt settlement companies can’t deliver the promised results. In my practice, I have represented several individuals who contacted me after they unsuccessfully tried to get out of debt by using a debt settlement company. Most clients quickly learn that bankruptcy can provide affordable, fast relief, with much more predictable results. If you are not sure if bankruptcy is right for you, be sure to contact an attorney for an assessment of your legal options.

Written by Gregg A. Knutson

Gregg A. Knutson is a general practice attorney with offices in Benton, Arkansas. His practice ares include personal injury, bankruptcy, domestic relations, wills, trusts, business litigation, and other matters. Gregg graduated with a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, master's degree in business administration from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and a law degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. Gregg's interests include spending time with his wife and daughter, barbecuing, boating, and enjoying the Arkansas outdoors. He is also active in Kiwanis and the Arkansas Bar Association.