Tax refunds for many chapter 7 clients become the tool that allow them to straighten out there financial affairs. For more and more people straightening out their affairs means discharging unsecured debts and wiping out minimum monthly fees that can strangle a budget. Getting the lump sum money in February or March for those that file early allow them to pay what most bankruptcy attorneys will charge to file a chapter 7. Over the years I have had more and more people who are on payment plans tell me that once they get there tax refund they will finally be able to pay the fees and service fees associated with a bankruptcy. The costs of filing bankruptcy with the court is $306 and most attorneys who use sophisticated software download there credit reports from the 3 bureaus to capture all creditors and get the updated bankruptcy addresses where notices need to be sent. That fee is typically $30 for an individual or $50 for a joint filing(Aka husband and wife). Along with those two fees there are two required credit counseling classes which charge at least $15 and $15 for each although some charge up to $50. As a qualified bankruptcy attorney in Riverside County filing 20 cases a month typically I will direct you to the cheapest and best sites to do the classes. So at a minimum there are $400 dollars in outgoing costs to various vendors to file. I typically charge $1100-$1500 depending on the complexity of a chapter 7 case. Things that make cases more complex are the income that people make if significantly higher than median, analyzing profit and losses for self employed people. Typically though, the type of consumer who is using there tax refund to file are wage earners who are employed and get a w2 and make less than the median income which is 48k for an individual 60k for a couple with each child adding about 6k to the equation. For those people its typically a simple case and I can potentially do it for $1400 which includes all the filing fees and costs that I mentioned above. If you are going to be receiving a refund and are struggling with debt issues, talk with a qualified bankruptcy attorney. I have been practicing law for 10 years and the last 5 have been solely focused on bankruptcy cases with chapter 7 and chapter 13 cases for individuals and businesses. I know all the trustees in Riverside and know what to look for and how to put together a case to sail through the process a smoothly as possible. Wishing you the best in 2013.