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Florida Vehicle Bankruptcy Exemptions Will Not Increase

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South Florida residents who have been considering the possibility of filing for bankruptcy might have heard about legislation in the state that would have increased the vehicle exemption in consumer bankruptcy filings. That bill, HB 265, was passed by lawmakers in March and was sent to the desk of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. However, DeSantis vetoed the bill, according to a report from the Tampa Bay Times, claiming that the increase in the exempted value associated with a motor vehicle might incentivize Floridians to file for bankruptcy. As such, the bill will not become law, and Florida residents who are filing for bankruptcy will only be able to exempt up to $1,000 of equity in a motor vehicle, as opposed to the $5,000 that the legislation would have permitted.

What else do you need to know about the bill and the reasons it was vetoed? Our West Palm Beach bankruptcy attorneys can provide you with more information.

Lawmakers in Florida Passed HB 265 “Without Opposition” 

The bill that DeSantis vetoed was not a controversial one for Florida lawmakers. In fact, according to the Tampa Bay Times, lawmakers in the state “passed the bill without opposition.” The proposed legislation did not appear to be contentious, and the proposed changes to the law did not seem excessive. The current language of Florida law reads, in relation to “other individual property” exempt in bankruptcy cases: “A debtor’s interest, not to exceed $1,000 in value, in a single motor vehicle.” HB 265 would have increased the amount a debtor could exempt, reading instead: “A debtor’s interest, not to exceed $5,000 in value, in a single motor vehicle.”

The increase in the motor vehicle exemption would not have affected other exemptions, such as Florida’s generous homestead exemption (through which most debtors can exempt all value in a primary residence), or the personal property exemption of $1,000.

DeSantis Vetoes Bill, Citing Concerns About Incentivizing Bankruptcy Filings 

HB 265 is the third bill that has been passed by lawmakers and vetoed by DeSantis during the most recent legislative session. In vetoing the bill, DeSantis wrote the following in a letter to Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd:

“Although it may be time to consider increasing the outdated exemption amount, this increase should apply to all persons who can claim Florida exemptions, whether in or out of bankruptcy, so that people are not incentivized to file for bankruptcy, which has long-lasting, negative consequences for a person’s credit history.”

It is not yet clear whether lawmakers will move to revise the motor vehicle exemption again at an amount above the current $1,000 but below the $5,000 exemption that was passed and vetoed in the most recent legislative session.

Seek Advice from a Bankruptcy Lawyer in West Palm Beach 

If you have questions or concerns about bankruptcy exemptions that are applicable to your case, or if you have general inquiries about consumer bankruptcy in Florida, you should seek advice from a bankruptcy lawyer who can help. One of the experienced West Palm Beach bankruptcy attorneys at Kelley, Fulton, Kaplan & Eller can assist you today.

Sources:

flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2022/265

tampabay.com/news/florida-politics/2022/05/23/desantis-vetoes-bill-on-increasing-vehicle-exemptions-in-bankruptcy-proceedings/

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