If you are considering filing for bankruptcy in Iowa, there are several steps you must take, including participating in credit counseling, completing the bankruptcy petition and other required forms, and filing those forms in the correct Iowa bankruptcy court. After filing, you must complete debtor counseling before receiving your discharge.
Because bankruptcy is mostly governed by federal bankruptcy laws, the general bankruptcy filing process in Iowa is similar to other states. However, there is some Iowa-specific information you will need to include on your bankruptcy forms. You’ll also have to know about the Iowa bankruptcy exemptions and find an approved credit and debt counselor in Iowa.
(For more articles on the filing process, see Filing for Bankruptcy.)
Here's how to get started.
Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling and Pre-Discharge Debtor Education in Iowa
In order to qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must show that you received credit counseling from an agency approved by the U.S. Trustee in Iowa within the six month period before you file for bankruptcy. You’ll also have to take a debtor education course before you get a bankruptcy discharge. (To learn more about this requirement, including the rare exceptions, see Credit Counseling & Debtor Education Requirements in Bankruptcy.)
You can find the list of approved Iowa credit counseling agencies here.
You can find the list of approved Iowa debtor education agencies here.
Iowa Bankruptcy Exemptions
Iowa has a set of bankruptcy exemptions which help determine what property you get to keep in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and play a role in how much you repay unsecured creditors in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. (To learn more, see our Bankruptcy Exemptions area.)
Unlike some states, Iowa does not allow debtors to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions. Instead, you are limited to using the Iowa state exemptions.
To learn about Iowa’s exemptions for your home and car, see The Homestead Exemption in Iowa and The Motor Vehicle Exemption in Iowa. To find other Iowa exemptions, visit our Bankruptcy Exemptions area.
Completing the Bankruptcy Forms in Iowa
When you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must complete a bankruptcy petition, a number of schedules containing detailed information about your finances, and several other forms, including a lengthy form known as the “means test” (for Chapter 7) and a similar form for Chapter 13.
(For a list of the forms you must complete, see The Bankruptcy Forms: Getting Started.)
Getting and Completing the Official Bankruptcy Forms
For more information about each of the official forms, including how to find them and fill them out, see Completing the Bankruptcy Forms.
Finding Means Test Information for Iowa
When you file for bankruptcy in Iowa, you must compare your income to the median income for a household of your size in Iowa. If your income is less than the median, you will be eligible to file for Chapter 7 and, if you choose to file for Chapter 13, you can use a three-year repayment plan (rather than five years). This is called the means test.
If your income is above Iowa’s median income, you still might qualify for Chapter 7, but you’ll have to provide detailed information about your expenses and payments on secured debts in order to find out. Most Chapter 13 filers also have to provide this information.
For information about each of these forms, including how to complete them, see:
Form 22A – Statement of Current Monthly Income and Means Test Calculation (for Chapter 7), and
Form 22C – Statement of Current Monthly Income and Calculation of Commitment Period and Disposable Income (for Chapter 13).
Here’s how to find the Iowa-specific figures for these means test forms:
Iowa median income figures. For a one-person household in Iowa, the median income is $40,650. For a family of three, the Iowa median income is $62,251. These figures change periodically. You can find the most current figures for each household size here.
Example. Brian’s annual income is $39,000. He lives alone. He will automatically pass the means test because his income is below $40,650.
Standard deductions. Forms 22A and 22C have a comprehensive list of expense categories, such as housing, transportation, food, and childcare. For some of those categories (like childcare), you provide the actual amount you spend. For others, you enter a predetermined amount -- sometimes that figure is standard for the whole country, other times it varies by county or region.
You can find all of Iowa’s state, county, and region-specific figures you’ll need for Forms 22A and 22C on the U.S. Trustee’s website at www.justice.gov/ust. Click on “Bankruptcy Reform” and then “Means Testing Information.”
Example. In Iowa, the standard amount you list on your bankruptcy papers for housing varies by county. For example, if you live in Polk County, your mortgage or rent deduction is $893 for a one-person household. But if you live in Linn County, the deduction is $808. You can find housing expense standards for each Iowa county here.
Getting Local Bankruptcy Forms
Some judicial districts and bankruptcy courts require bankruptcy filers to complete additional “local forms.” To find out if your court requires additional forms, contact the bankruptcy filing clerk. Some courts post these forms online on the court’s website. (Below you’ll find a link to Iowa’s bankruptcy courts.)
Filing in the Correct Iowa Bankruptcy Court
There are two judicial districts in Iowa (see below for links). You can file in either:
- the district where you have been living for the greater part of the 180-day period before you file, or
- the district where you are domiciled—that is, where you intend to maintain your home, even if you have been living elsewhere temporarily (such as on a military base).
Finding the Iowa Bankruptcy Courts
You can use the Court Locator tool on the U.S. Trustee’s website to find bankruptcy court locations and websites. The two district bankruptcy courts in Iowa are: