By Kitty J. Lin, Attorney at Law
As we all know, prices today are rapidly increasing, from the price of food staples such as bread and eggs, to the price of gas. I am sure it comes as no surprise that the court fees for bankruptcy have increased as well. Effective November 1, 2011, most of the bankruptcy court fees that affect you have increased. The increased filing fees can be found here: http://www.canb.uscourts.gov/bankruptcy-court-fee-schedule.
The filing fees that impact consumers most are the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing fees and the Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing fees. The Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing fee has increased from $299 to $306. The Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing fee increased from $274 to $281. Even though the filing fees for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy petitions increased by only $7, if you are thinking of filing for bankruptcy, you know that every dollar counts. The people that may notice these increased filing fees the most are people that have filed a previous bankruptcy recently and need to file another bankruptcy. Be sure to include an extra $7 if you are filing pro se. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court only accepts exact change. For people that have retained attorneys, the attorneys will make sure the filing fee is paid. The filing fees for the other chapters, including Chapter 9, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, and Chapter 15 bankruptcy filing fees have also increased by $7.
Another fee that may affect you is the increased fees for amending your Schedules D, E, F and/or Creditor Matrix. The fee increased from $26 to $30. The difference with this fee is that it is entirely avoidable. If your original schedules are correct and do not need to be amended, then you will not incur this $30 fee, so try to be diligent and make sure the schedules are correct the first time. Another increased fee is the returned check fee. The returned check fee increased from $45 to $53. This fee is also avoidable. Be sure you have the funds in your bank account before issuing a check to the bankruptcy court and you will not be charged this fee.
If you are requesting a fee waiver in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, the qualifications have not changed, so the filing fee increase does not affect the fee waiver. Fee waivers may be granted to families that have income less than 150% of the poverty guidelines and that cannot pay the filing fee in installments.