I have written about this subject many times, and you can find the other entries by typing “refund” into the search button and hitting “search.” However, it is an important question, and I don’t mind asking its many variations.
To briefly recap: you cannot protect your tax refund in Utah. A creditor can attach it, your student loans can garnish it, and the bankruptcy trustee can keep it. However, you can time your bankruptcy so that you lose very little or none of your tax refund. If you are getting a good tax refund next year, then you want to wait to file bankruptcy until after you’ve received and spent it.
Utah does not have any state law which exempts (protects) your refund. Other states may. In California, you can use your $25,000 wildcard, Ohio gives you a $1,150 wildcard, Virginia gives you $5,000 to spread between household assets and the refund, in New York you can opt to use federal exemptions and protect up to $5,000 in cash, and there are others.
In Utah, there are none. You will lose that refund unless you time your bankruptcy correctly. Get a good bankruptcy attorney and talk this one out at length before you file.