Idaho is a dreamland for those who love the outdoors. It offers the most whitewater river miles in the lower 48 states, and more than 21 million miles of forest and public lands. It’s a destination for those who enjoy skiing in well-known resorts such as Sun Valley.
However, Idaho ranks only 47th in the United States for per capita personal income (PCPI). The PCPI is $39,107, just 79% of the national average. Although Idaho’s PCPI increased by 1.7% in 2016, the average national increase was 2.9%.
Idaho ranked 42nd in the United States for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by state in 2016; the GDP was $67.3 billion. In 2016, Idaho’s GDP grew 1.8%, which was a little better than the national average of 1.5%. The Bureau of Economic Analysis listed Idaho’s largest industry as finance, insurance, real estate, rental, and leasing. This was all considered one industry in the report, and it represented 1.79% of Idaho’s GDP. The second-largest industry was government. The largest contributor to real GDP was construction, followed by professional and business services.
As far as bankruptcy goes, 3,840 people filed in Idaho in 2016, which is a 3.3% decrease from the 3,970 who filed in 2015. In the U.S. as a whole, 794,960 people filed for bankruptcy in 2016, a decrease of 5.9% from 2015’s 844,495.
Below, we’ll go over some of the basics of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Idaho, which exemptions you can use to keep your property, and where the bankruptcy courts are located.
The Basics of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Idaho
Most people who file bankruptcy choose Chapter 7, which is referred to as a liquidation bankruptcy, instead of a Chapter 13 reorganization. Both are governed by Title 11 of the U.S. Code. When you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your property may be sold in order to help pay your debts. However, specified property is exempt under federal law.
Some states have a different list of exempt property, however. When you file for bankruptcy in Idaho, you must use the Idaho bankruptcy exemptions. We’ll go into what those are in just a minute.
Before you can file for bankruptcy in Idaho, you must first get credit counseling from an agency approved by the U.S. bankruptcy trustee in Idaho. You have to do this within six months prior to filing.
In addition, you have to take a debtor education course from an approved debtor education agency before the court will grant you a discharge in bankruptcy.
Idaho Bankruptcy Exemptions: What property can I keep?
In some states, you have your choice which list of exempt property you want to use. However, in Idaho, you must use the exemptions laid out by the state. There is a value cap on some exemptions, and that value refers to your equity in the property — not the entire value of the property. For example, you may have a house or a car that is not entirely paid off.
Let’s take a look at some of these exemptions.
Idaho Bankruptcy ExemptionsThe top 5 exemptions under Idaho state law.
|Type of exemption||Idaho law|
|Personal property||$7,500 in appliances, furnishings, clothing, etc.; jewelry up to $1,000; crops up to 50 acres/$1,000|
|Wages||75% of earned but unpaid wages or 30 times the federal hourly minimum wage, whichever is greater (but not more than $1,500 in a calendar year); more can be approved for low-income debtors|
|Pension/retirement||Employee plan benefits, plus firefighter, police officer, and public employee retirement|
Idaho Code § 55-1003 grants an exemption of $100,000 for real estate or a mobile home. If you are not yet living in the property, you can file a homestead declaration under Idaho Code § 55-1004.
Example: If you bought a $300,000 house in which you have $75,000 in equity, it will not be sold, because your equity is under the exemption amount. However, if the equity in the property is $150,000, the trustee could sell the house to pay your debts, since the exemption of $100,000 is quite a bit less than your equity.
Personal Property Exemptions
Idaho Code § 11-603(1) exempts burial plots. Idaho Code § 11-603(2) exempts needed health aids.
Idaho Code § 11-604 exempts personal injury and wrongful death recoveries needed for support.
Idaho Code § 11-605 exempts appliances, furnishings, books, clothing, pets, musical instruments, one firearm, family portraits, and sentimental heirlooms to $750 per item with a total of $7,500. Idaho Code § 11-605(2) exempts jewelry up to $1,000. Idaho Code § 11-605(7) exempts crops cultivated by the debtor on up to 50 acres (including water rights for irrigation up to 160 inches) up to a value of $1,000.
Idaho Code § 11-606 exempts proceeds for damaged exempt property for up to three months after received.
Idaho Code § 45-514 exempts building materials.
Idaho Code § 11-605(3) exempts a motor vehicle up to a value of $7,000.
Example: If you bought a car worth $18,000, but owe the dealership $11,000, you have $7,000 equity in the car and can protect it under the Idaho exemption. If you have equity in excess of $7,000, the bankruptcy trustee can sell your car to help pay your debts.
Idaho Code § 11-207 exempts either a minimum of 75% of earned but unpaid wages or 30 times the federal hourly minimum wage (whichever is greater) but not more than $1,500 in a calendar year. A judge can approve more for low-income debtors.
Benefits and Pension/Retirement Exemptions
Idaho Code § 72-1422 exempts firefighter’s fund retirement benefits.
Idaho Code § 50-1517 exempts retirement benefits for police officers.
Idaho Code § 11-605(10) gives those who file for bankruptcy in Idaho a wildcard that enables them to protect up to $800 of any personal property they own.
Idaho Bankruptcy Court Locations
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Idaho has four divisions in the state: Southern, Northern, Central, and Eastern. See below for more information on where you may file for bankruptcy in Idaho.
Where: James A. McClure Federal Building and United States Courthouse, 550 W. Fort St., Suite 400, Boise ID 83724
Where: U.S. District & Bankruptcy Courthouse, 6450 N. Mineral Drive, Coeur d’Alene ID 83815
Where: U.S. District & Bankruptcy Courthouse, 220 E. Fifth St., Moscow ID 83843
Phone: None, only open for scheduled hearings; direct any correspondence or pleadings to the Coeur d’Alene office
Where: U.S. District & Bankruptcy Courthouse, 801 E. Sherman St., Room 119, Pocatello ID 83201
Before You File for Bankruptcy in Idaho
If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, it would be wise to contact an Idaho bankruptcy attorney. They may be able to help you to pursue another option if you contact them soon enough. And if not, they can make the bankruptcy process as easy as possible.