Certain postpetition claims may be filed and allowed in a Chapter 13 case. This permits the same treatment of certain postpetition credit extended to the Chapter 13 debtor as for a prepetition claim for purposes of proof, allowance, and priority. The holder of the postpetition claim may refrain from filing proof of the postpetition claim, thereby waiving the possibility of a distribution under the Chapter 13 plan, in hopes of recovering against the debtor after the closing of the case. A discharge granted in a Chapter 13 case would not relieve the debtor of liability on a postpetition claim, unless the holder of the claim has filed a postpetition claim and the debt has been provided for by the plan.
The holder of a postpetition claim is neither a ''creditor'' nor otherwise expressly authorized to file a claim. The only exception to this general rule is the authorization in the Bankruptcy Code for certain postpetition creditors, those holding specified types of consumer debtor tax claims, to file postpetition claims in Chapter 13 cases if they choose to do so. However, unlike other types of claims, only the holder of this type of postpetition claim may file the claim and thereby choose to become involved in the Chapter 13 case. A debtor cannot file such a claim on behalf of the holder to bring the holder into the case involuntarily.
Filing of Postpetition Tax and "Consumer Debt" Claims
A holder of a claim against the debtor for taxes that become payable to a governmental unit during the pendency of a bankruptcy case may choose to prove its claim against the Chapter 13 estate. If the tax claim is prepetition, it is ineligible as a tax claim on postpetition income. A tax on postpetition income of the debtor or of the Chapter 13 estate is not a liability of the Chapter 13 estate; it is a liability of the debtor alone. Nevertheless, the holder of a postpetition tax claim may choose to seek distribution under the Chapter 13 plan by filing a proof of claim.
The holder of a claim based on a ''consumer debt'' arising after the commencement of the Chapter 13 case for property or services necessary for the debtor's performance under the plan is entitled to file a proof of claim.
Scope of the Chapter 13 Discharge
The scope of a Chapter 13 discharge in relation to allowed postpetition claims depends on whether the claim is held to be a debt. If a plan does not provide for postpetition debts, they cannot be paid or discharged under the plan. A plan requiring that holders of postpetition claims be given notice in time to permit their proof and allowance and proposing appropriate payment of allowed postpetition claims would satisfy the requirement that the debt be provided for by the plan, thereby bringing these claims within the scope of a discharge.
Advisability of Filing a Postpetition Claim
The holder of a postpetition claim must decide whether to file a proof of claim or attempt recovery after the Chapter 13 case has been closed. A postpetition tax claim would not ordinarily be entitled to priority under the Bankruptcy Code because it does not relate to taxes due prepetition. Therefore, the plan need not provide for full payment of the postpetition claim. If the postpetition claim is filed and the plan provides for the claim, the holder risks the claim being discharged at the end of the plan without full payment. If the plan does not provide for the claim and is not amended to provide for the claim then the claim is not paid during the plan and remains due after the discharge. For a non-tax creditor, the opportunity to share immediately in distribution of the debtor's postpetition income through the Chapter 13 plan must be weighed against the possibility of the postpetition claim being discharged without full payment.
Disallowance of Unauthorized Consumer Debt Claims
It is often essential to the success of a Chapter 13 plan that the debtor be allowed to acquire, on credit, property or services necessary to enable the debtor to continue performance under the plan. It is also important to the success of the plan that the Chapter 13 debtor not be allowed to incur unnecessary debt. Under the Bankruptcy Code, the Chapter 13 trustee is given responsibility for evaluating these matters. A postpetition consumer debt claim is to be disallowed if its holder knew or should have known that it was practicable to obtain the approval of the Chapter 13 trustee before the consumer debt was incurred and that approval was not obtained.
Copyright 2005 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.