Businesses Seek Bankruptcy Protection Due to Coronavirus

With so many businesses being shuttered during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no surprise that even well-established major corporations are pursuing bankruptcy.  J. Crew was among the first of the major corporations to file for bankruptcy amidst the Coronavirus shutdown, marking an end of an era for a major American apparel retailer with international acclaim. Its retail services were deemed non-essential and, with consumer budgets tighter than ever, it was hit hard, along with much of the retail industry.

Other giants who have filed for bankruptcy in recent months include Pier One Imports, Art Van Furniture, and even Whiting Petroleum Company, who experienced huge losses from the crash in oil prices. Unfortunately, many more are projected to suffer the same fate.  

While it’s not just retail that is (and will be) impacted by the Coronavirus, there are some factors to consider when looking at some of the industries most heavily impacted by a global pandemic. Luxury retail and travel-related services will likely continue to experience the biggest hardships.

The early statistics on the economic fallout of COVID-19 are in and, in addition to retail, have identified the following industries as being the hardest hit so far

Airlines:

This one may seem obvious, since most borders are currently closed and only essential travel is allowed.  However, even in spite of a $58 billion dollar bailout from the federal government, many airlines are projected to file for bankruptcy in the coming months. This also has projected downstream effects for the aerospace industry, as well. 

Casinos and Gaming:

With most casinos and gaming facilities shut down completely, this entire industry is at a stand still, until it’s time to safely re-open those sectors of the economy. Even then, it will be a slow start, while consumer confidence gradually re-builds.

Automotive:

The automotive industry, including retail parts and manufacturing, is also seeing the impact of COVID-19. Consumers are holding off on non-essential repairs, which means automotive shops and dealerships aren’t as busy. Unfortunately, it also means that the automotive parts industry has seen a huge decline in their demand. Factory shutdowns due to the pandemic have also played a factor in parts and equipment availability, even for businesses which are deemed essential. 

Oil and Gas Drilling:

With the demand for travel of any kind being lower than it has been in decades, oil prices dropped precipitously in recent months. It’s little surprise that these corporations are also experiencing financial hardship during the Coronavirus. 

What do these large bankruptcies mean for small business owners?

There is good news for small businesses considering bankruptcy during this time. Some of the COVID-19-related changes concern federal bankruptcy law.  This is, in part, owing to the record number of large corporations having to file for bankruptcy protection at this time. 

Many small businesses may even find bankruptcy as a way to stay afloat during this pandemic, owing to recent changes in Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing guidelines.  The Small Business Reorganization Act (SBRA), for example, made small businesses with under $2.7 million in debt eligible for debt restructuring. The recent federal CARES Act for economic stimulus upped that threshold to $7.5 million to qualify for Chapter 11. 

If you’re wondering whether your business could be eligible for debt restructuring during COVID-19, contact the Law Offices of Bill Payne, P.C., an experienced bankruptcy attorney with more than 30 years helping businesses learn what their options are. There’s no need to drown in debt during a pandemic, and we are here to help you through that process with a free consultation to discuss your unique situation.

Business Bankruptcy

If your business is currently facing financial difficulties that it cannot handle on its own, it may be time to consult a corporate bankruptcy lawyer. While bankruptcy will have a significant impact on your business, it may be the only way to move forward.

Types of Business Bankruptcy

The three types of bankruptcy available to businesses include:

  • Chapter 7, often used by sole proprietorships and small businesses;
  • Chapter 13, which allows sole proprietorships to restructure their debt; and
  • Chapter 11, used by corporations and partnerships to help meet debt obligations.

When filing business bankruptcy in Dallas, you’ll first need to consult with a business bankruptcy attorney to see whether it’s truly the best option for you. If it is, it will then be important to determine which option best fits your situation.

Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy for Your Business

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is for businesses that don’t have the means to restructure their debt. It effectively frees you from most of your unsecured debts, though it may mean liquidating assets to do so. To qualify for Chapter 7, your business will need to pass a “Means Test” to see if its income is insufficient to meet its current obligations.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is typically best for:

  • Sole proprietorships and general partnerships where individuals are responsible for business debts,
  • Corporations or LLC’s
  • Businesses that can no longer continue operating.

Filing Chapter 13 for Sole Proprietorships

Sole proprietorships that don’t pass the means test may qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Additionally, general partners of partnerships—not the partnership itself—may qualify to file under this chapter since they are personally liable for their business’s debts.

Chapter 13 allows individuals to pay off their debts over a three to five year period. To qualify, you’ll have to meet these requirements:

  • Be individually responsible for your debt ( if you’re a sole proprietor or general partner),
  • Wish to continue business operations, and
  • Have no more than $419,275 in unsecured debt and $1,257,850 in secured debts.*

Note that corporations, LLCs, LLPs, and other such organizations cannot file Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

*Debt limits are current as of April 2019.

Filing Chapter 11 for Partnerships and Corporations

Partnerships and corporations that wish to restructure their debts may file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The process of doing so is long and complex, and you will need a corporate bankruptcy lawyer to work with you through the process, including filing petitions and creating a repayment plan.

Get Started with a Business Bankruptcy Attorney

If you think you may need to file business bankruptcy in Dallas and other areas in North Texas, we can help you through that process. We’ll advise you on the steps you’ll need to take as well as which type of bankruptcy is right for your situation. To get started, contact the Law Offices of Bill F. Payne, P.C. today.

How to File for Bankruptcy

If you have overwhelming debt or financial obligations, it may be time to file bankruptcy. If you’re not sure how to file for bankruptcy or whether it’s right for you, a personal bankruptcy lawyer can help you.

When to Consider Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy may be your best course of action if you:

  • Have difficulty keeping up with debt payments
  • Can’t seem to pay off debt balances, no matter how hard you try
  • Have lots of high-interest debt
  • Are facing a possible home foreclosure or other loss of personal property

If any of these sound like your situation, talking to a Dallas bankruptcy attorney will be the best place to start. We can help you determine if bankruptcy is right for you.

Choose the Type of Bankruptcy

Before filing bankruptcy, you’ll need to choose the right type for your situation. Consumers have two types of bankruptcy options: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

Chapter 7

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is intended to completely eliminate certain unsecured debts, such as credit card debt or medical bills.

Note that getting debts discharged may require liquidating some of your personal assets, and even then, not all types of debt are covered. That said, Chapter 7 can be a powerful way to get a fresh start.

Chapter 13

Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to reorganize your debt and make payments over the course of three to five years. The idea is to allow you to get caught up on your financial obligations without outright forgiving the debt entirely.

Do You Qualify for Bankruptcy?

To file for bankruptcy, you’ll first need to meet certain eligibility requirements.

Means Test

To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you’ll need to pass a “Means Test,” which will determine if you have the financial means to meet your current obligations. Passing the means test indicates that you can’t make a meaningful impact on your existing debt.

Eligibility

Some situations may limit your eligibility, such as if you have already filed bankruptcy in the past. Typically, you’ll have to wait a period of time or pay enough of your previous obligations in order to qualify if this is the case.

Other requirements

Other situations, such as residence requirements, may also limit your eligibility. The best way to find out if you’re eligible is to talk to a personal bankruptcy lawyer.

Get Started with a Dallas Bankruptcy Attorney

To learn more about how to file for bankruptcy and to get started with the process, you’ll want to contact a Dallas bankruptcy attorney. At your initial consultation, bring the following information:

  • Recent bills from each of your creditors
  • Collection letters
  • Court documents
  • Notices of property repossession, foreclosure, etc.
  • Financial information, including pay stubs and tax documents
  • Proof of ID

At the Law Offices of Bill F. Payne, P.C., we’ll help you determine whether bankruptcy is the best option for you, find out if you’re eligible, and get you started on the process. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.