13 B 32174
In this Chapter 7 proceeding, the Debtor scheduled a 2013 federal tax refund in the amount of $10,576, of which he claimed $3,000 as an exempt public assistance benefit under 735 ILCS 5/12-1001(g)(1).
Trustee David Leibowitz objected, arguing that the child tax credit does not qualify as a “public assistance benefit” under the Illinois statute which allows debtors to exempt such. In 2003 a bankruptcy court ruled that the nonrefundable portion of the child tax credit was not a public assistance benefit because it was available to higher income taxpayers and that the refundable additional child tax credit was a public assistance benefit that could be exempted because it benefited lower income taxpayers. The Illinois statute does not limit or condition the exemption.
The Court overruled the Trustee’s objection, rejecting the argument that the Illinois statute was meant to benefit lower income individuals only and declined to make the policy choice that a debtor who claimed five personal exemptions/dependents on his tax return while reporting income of $68,824 was too affluent to benefit from the child tax credit. The Illinois exemption statute provides for the exemption of public assistance benefits, without regard to whether they are refundable or are available only to lower income debtors. The Court explained that it is the role of the legislature, rather than the court, to limit the availability of the exemption.