While calculating the cost of bankruptcy may not be difficult, it is different for each person who declares bankruptcy in Canada because the ultimate cost is based on their monthly income, expenses, family size and assets.
There are three different payments a person may pay in filing a bankruptcy:
- Monthly contributions – Which is the fee to cover administrative costs: government fee, counselling sessions, Trustee’s time, mailing, preparation for filing your tax return etc. The usual standard cost is around $200 per month per person.
- Surplus income payments – The surplus income that is required depends on your net income, minus any monthly non-discretionary expenses and minus the amount given for the Superintendent’s Directive, depending on the number of people you have to support, which includes your spouse and children less than 18 years old. The non-discretionary expenses are for child support payments, spousal support payments, child care expenses, expenses associated with medical condition and court-imposed fines or penalties that are in the process of being paid. The number of people in the bankrupt household determines the standard to be used.
- Assets – You surrender certain assets to a trustee in exchange for the elimination of you debt however you can also arrange to keep the asset by buying it back from the bankruptcy estate. How much you will have to pay for these assets is based on their realizable value (how much the licensed insolvency trustee could recover if they were to sell the asset) and what assets or asset value is exempt from seizure based on provincial exemption limits. Assets you may be required to surrender include:
- Equity in your house
- The value of a car with no loans and are over the provincial exemption limit
- Investments (like Canada savings bonds or other non-exempt assets)
- Tax refund for prior years that you haven’t filed and for the year that you are bankrupt
- RRSP contributions that you have made in the last year.
Based on these costs, there are three questions you should discuss with your Licensed Insolvency Trustee prior to filing:
- What your potential payments may be;
- If there is a risk that you will have to pay surplus income and if you do, what other options are there including a consumer proposal in Canada;
- What assets you may lost and, if they are substantial, would a consumer proposal make more sense.
All of these questions should be answered before you sign so there are little to no surprises in the cost of your bankruptcy.