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How is unpaid child support taken from tax returns?

For Belleville parents that are currently receiving child support from an ex-spouse, those payments are typically vital to meeting the expenses needed to support both the children and the home. Thus, when payments are missed, the court allows those agencies tasked with collecting them a number of freedoms in attempting to collect delinquent payments, including the garnishment of income tax returns.

How does this happen? The Office of Child Support Enforcement has collaborated with the Internal Revenue Service, local state child support agencies, and the Financial Management Service of the U.S. Treasury Department to create the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program. Simply put, this programs allows for the repayment of past due child support by intercepting those funds directly from the tax refunds of those who owe them. In order for a case to qualify for a Tax Refund Offset, the noncustodial parent must owe at least $500.

According to the OCSE website, the recovery process works as follows:

  1.        The state child support agency supplies the names and Social Security numbers of those owing child support, along with the amount they owe.
  2.        The parent owing the child support is notified of the pending action. He or she is also given the right to appeal.
  3.        Once the parent’s refund has been processed, the amount of delinquent child support is forwarded to the OCSE, which in turn sends it on the state child support agency.
  4.        The noncustodial parent will then receive a Notice of Offset detailing the action taken and instructing him or her to contact the appropriate state child support agency with any questions.

Should the funds taken from a return not cover the entire amount of child support owed, the process can be repeated with the following year’s tax return.

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