When you file for bankruptcy, you must pay a filing fee. If you can't afford to pay this fee upfront or in installments, you might qualify for a waiver of the fee. Along with your other bankruptcy forms, you will have to complete and file a fee waiver form.
You can learn about other required paperwork in Completing the Bankruptcy Forms.
If you don't have the funds to pay the filing fee now, but you'll have money later, you can ask the court to allow you to pay the fee in installments. To do so, you'll complete the Application for Individuals to Pay the Filing Fee in Installments (Form 103A) and request to pay the fee in up to four payments within 120 days of your bankruptcy filing date.
If you don't have the funds to pay the fee—even down the road—you'll qualify for a fee waiver if:
The fee waiver income limits are based on the official poverty guidelines last published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Even if you're within the poverty guidelines, you'll still have to state under penalty of perjury that you can't pay the fee in installments.
You can find the bankruptcy fee waiver income limits on the U.S. Court's website at www.uscourts.gov. At the bottom of the page, click on "Bankruptcy," "Chapter 7 Fee Waiver Procedures and Resources," and "150 Percent of the HHS Poverty Guidelines."
To complete Application to Have the Chapter 7 Filing Fee Waived (Form 103B), you must provide information about your family size, combined family income, monthly expenses, cash on hand, bank accounts, personal property, and real estate.
You'll use the information you provided on your bankruptcy schedules (the figures should be consistent). In particular, you'll need information from Schedule I (income), Schedule J (expenses), and Schedule A/B (property).
You must also provide information about:
The form also allows you to provide any other information that helps explain why you cannot pay the fee upfront or in installments.
The court can order one of the following things:
All bankruptcy forms are here.
This article provides general information only. There are many legal issues involved and important decisions to be made when filing for bankruptcy. You must understand the entire bankruptcy process, learn about the applicable federal and state laws, and determine how those laws will affect your particular situation before you complete the bankruptcy forms. If you want to file bankruptcy without a lawyer, use a good do-it-yourself book like How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy by Cara O'Neill and Albin Renauer to ensure you make well-informed decisions about your bankruptcy case.