Monday, December 14, 2015

The Means Test: "Household" Size and Contributions

The bankruptcy code's "means test" looks to the size of the debtor's "household." The bankruptcy code does not define what constitutes a "household."

Census Bureau Definition

Some bankruptcy courts hold that the Census Bureau's definition of "household" provides the most appropriate definition of household for use in the means test. The Census Bureau defines "household" as "all of the people, related and unrelated, who occupy a housing unit"such as a house, apartment, group of rooms or single room that is intended for occupancy as a separate living quarters." These Courts hold that the word "household" and not "family" and did not intend to limit household size to only household members related by blood, marriage or adoption.

Internal Revenue Manual Definition

In some cases, parties argue that the Internal Revenue Manuel's ("IRM") definition of "household"should be used. The IRM does not define "household" but indicates that the number of persons allowed under the national standard expenses should generally be the same as the number of dependents on the taxpayer's latest tax return.