Exemption laws passed at the state level determine what property can be kept from creditors in Wisconsin.

Table of Contents
  1. Wisconsin Homestead Exemption
  2. Wisconsin Personal Property Exemption
  3. Wage Protections in Wisconsin
  4. Pensions and Retirement Accounts

In Wisconsin, homeowners may file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and keep their home in certain cases. As such, homesteads are one of the primary exemptions (assets that are untouchable by creditors) in many Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases in Wisconsin.

The homestead is the most important exemption for Wisconsin filers who own property, but there are many other exemptions which may apply as well.

In Wisconsin, filers may opt to use state-specific exemptions or federal exemption statutes.

Here are some of the top bankruptcy exemptions in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin vs. Federal Exemptions

The top 5 exemptions under Wisconsin law compared to federal law.
Type of exemptionWisconsin lawFederal law
Homestead$75,000, or $150,000 for married couples filing jointly$23,675 of equity in principal place of residence
Personal property$12,000 aggregate value$12,625 aggregate value on household goods, plus federal wildcard exemption applicable ($1,250 plus $11,850 of any unused portion of your homestead exemption)
Vehicle$4,000; an additional $12,000 in unused personal property exemptions can be added to this$3,775
Wages75% net weekly incomeIncome you've earned but not yet received becomes part of your bankruptcy estate
Pension/retirementTax-exempt retirement accounts, including pensions for some firefighters, police officers, and municipal employeesExempt, with a cap of about $1.28 million on IRAs and Roth IRAs

Wisconsin Homestead Exemption

The homestead exemption through Wisconsin code is more beneficial than what federal exemptions allow. Bankruptcy filers may exempt up to $75,000 equity in their home for individuals, or $150,000 for married couples filing jointly. If you intend to purchase another home, your sale proceeds are exempt for up to two years, but this cannot be doubled when married. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 815.20

Wisconsin Vehicle Exemption

Up to $4,000 equity in a motor vehicle may be exempt using the state exemptions. An additional $12,000 in unused personal property exemptions can be added to this for vehicles that are worth more money. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 815.18(3)(g)

Wisconsin Personal Property Exemption

Personal property is exempt up to $12,000 in aggregate value. This includes the following:

  • Household goods and furnishings
  • Appliances
  • Clothing
  • Keepsakes, jewelry, and other articles of personal adornment
  • Musical instruments
  • Books
  • Firearms
  • Sporting goods
  • Animals

Money paid into a trust fund or college savings account also is exempt under the personal property exemptions, in addition to personal injury recoveries up to $50,000. Wis. Stat. § 815.18(3)(d)

Wage Protections in Wisconsin

Up to 75% of a debtor’s net weekly income is exempt, limited to what is reasonably necessary. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 815.18(3)(h)

Pensions and Retirement Accounts

Various pension and retirement accounts are covered by Wisconsin or federal law, including tax-exempt retirement accounts. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 815.18(3)(j)  Some municipal employees, firefighters and police officers who work in cities with more than 100,000 residents have exempt pensions under Wisconsin bankruptcy code. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 815.18(3)(e)(f)

Additionally, public benefits including veterans benefits, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, and disability insurance are all 100% exempt.

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