It’s probably not surprising that income is one of the most important pieces of information you’ll list on your bankruptcy forms. The bankruptcy forms ask about income in different ways. Different forms require you to list current income, past income, and even future income.
It can get complicated to list past and current income if you haven’t had any income from employment or a business because you are or were a stay-at-home parent or spouse, unemployed, incarcerated, or experiencing homelessness.
Even if you weren’t receiving income, your basic monthly expenses were still covered somehow. The court needs to know how you paid for your expenses during the last two calendar years and how you’ll pay for your expenses after filing. Often if someone doesn’t have any kind of income, a family member, friend, or someone else paid (and maybe still pays) their expenses for them. When someone else pays or covers your expenses, that’s an outside contribution.
The best example of an outside contribution is living with family or friends for free. The money your family or friends use to pay your share of the housing and food costs are outside contributions. Even if you haven’t exchanged any money, if someone covered an expense for you it’s an outside contribution and considered income on your bankruptcy forms.
How To Properly List Income From Outside Contributions on Schedule I...
The following guidance assumes that you’ll continue to receive contributions. If you know that the contributions won’t continue after you file your case, you don’t have to list them as income on your Schedule I. But you still have to include the full amount you received in the six months before you filed your case in your means test analysis.
… if You Get Regular Monthly Contributions From Someone
If you get the same amount every month, list that amount on Schedule I. If the amount you receive changes, list the average based on how much you received in the past.
Debbie’s aunt has been contributing to Debbie’shousehold expenses by helping her out with varying amounts of cash for eight months. She expects to continue helping Debbie at about the same level even after Debbie files her bankruptcy. Debbie has collected the following information about her aunt’s contributions:
Month 1: $400
Month 2: $50
Month 3: $300
Month 4: $275
Month 6: $325
Month 7: $250
Month 8: $450
Her aunt’s total contribution over eight months was $2,050.
To get the average, we’ll divide the total amount ($2,050) by the number of months (8). Her average monthly contribution was $256.25.
Debbie’s Schedule I will show that her income from contributions is about $256.25/month.
… if Someone Is Paying One or More of Your Monthly Bills
That’s considered income even though you never see the money. It may be a bit easier to calculate than the above example if the amount of the bill doesn’t change, but overall, the calculation is done the same way.
Let’s look at Debbie’s story again:
Assume that starting in Month 3, Debbie’s aunt started paying Debbie’s car insurance, which costs $100/month, in addition to giving her money directly. Debbie’s aunt expects to continue to pay this bill for a while longer. Even though Debbie never sees this money, it still increases her monthly income by $100, bringing her aunt’s total monthly contributions to $356.25.
... if You Have a Roommate That You Split Your Bills With
Ideally, you’d have a written agreement with your roommate that spells out how much each one of you is contributing to your joint expenses. But most people don't have this, so figuring out your income and expenses will depend on how you and your roommate(s) are handling the details.
Start by figuring out your expenses. Make sure you put all of the household expenses like rent, electricity, and internet service in one section. Keep all personal expenses separate. The bankruptcy court isn’t interested in how much your roommate pays for their cell phone bill; that’s their personal expense. Your cell phone bill is your personal expense. In this case, your cell phone bill is the only one you need on your bankruptcy forms.
Let’s take a look at A common scenarios to illustrate how you can use your household budget to figure out your roommate's contributions:
You pay this bill, I pay this bill.
This one’s relatively easy. Add up the total amount your roommate pays for the bills they’re covering for the household. That’s their monthly contribution. It’s essentially the same thing as Debbie’s aunt paying her car insurance for her in the example above.
Be sure to list on Schedule J as an expense all of these household bills your roommate has agreed to pay