May 24, 2016
Like all states, Arkansas has its own set of exemptions that you may use when filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Exemptions determine what property (such as a home, car, instrument, retirement account, etc.) you may keep in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and how much you must pay to certain creditors in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
In Arkansas, you may use either the Arkansas state exemptions (listed below), or the federal bankruptcy exemptions (you can find these in Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions). You cannot mix and match from each list. If you choose to use the Arkansas state exemptions, you may also use any applicable amounts in the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.
Unless noted otherwise, if a couple is married and filing jointly in Arkansas, each spouse may claim the full amount of each exemption. This is informally called “doubling.”
To learn more about bankruptcy exemptions, including how they work, which state exemption system you should use, and special rules for the homestead exemption, see Bankruptcy Exemptions – What Can I Keep When I File for Bankruptcy?
Unless otherwise noted, all law references are to the Arkansas Code Annotated.
A. 16-66-210 - Married person or head of family may claim: Real or personal property used as a residence; unlimited exemption up to 1/4 acre in a city, town, or village; or up to 80 acres elsewhere. If between 1/4 and 1 acre in city, town, or village, or 80 to 160 acres elsewhere, additional exemption up to $2,500. No homestead may exceed 1 acre in city, town, or village, or 160 acres elsewhere. Spouses may not double.
B. 16-66-218 - Real or personal property used as a residence, up to $800 if single or $1,250 if married.
You can keep all of your clothing under Arkansas law. Ark. Const. art. IX, § § 1 and 2).
While Arkansas does have a bankruptcy exemption statute on the books, which delineates various exemption amounts for certain types of personal property (see Ark. Code Ann. § 16-66-218 ), in 1990 the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals declared this statute unconstitutional as it relates to personal property. In re Holt, 894 F.2d 1005 (8th Cir. 1990). The court reasoned that because Arkansas has a constitutional provision which allows debtors to exempt up to $200 of all of their personal property ($500 if married) (see Ark. Const. art. IX, § § 1 and 2), this provision acted as a cap. The bankruptcy exemption statute (which allows for more generous exemption amounts) conflictswith the Constitution and is therefore unconstitutional.
These caps apply to all of your personal property. So, for example, if you are single and use $200 to exempt car equity, you'll have nothing left for your piano.
11-9-110 - Workers' compensation.
11-10-109 - Unemployment compensation.
16-90-716 - Crime victims' compensation.
Add any applicable Federal Nonbankruptcy Exemptions.
This list includes the majority of bankruptcy exemptions available in Arkansas. However, it may not include all exemptions, and states often create exceptions to specific exemptions. In addition, Arkansas may have changed the amounts since this list was last updated. Check with your local bankruptcy court or talk to a local attorney to get completely up-to-date information.