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Tax time may not bring that refund you expect

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2023 | Child Support

For many, this time of year is like Christmas, the time when Uncle Sam gives the gift of a big tax refund check. However, for those who owe back child support, more and more people are finding that present is taken by Uncle Sam to pay their Carlsbad, California, child support debt.

The Federal Income Tax Refund Offset Program

The program that takes your refund is call the Federal Income Tax Refund Offset Program, and it is run by the Internal Revenue Service. When the IRS receives notification from the state of a qualified debt, the IRS determines whether the debt qualifies. If so, a notice is sent, the check is taken, another notice is sent and then the amount is forwarded to the state to pay down or pay off the Carlsbad, California, child support debt.

Qualifying child support debt

If your ex-spouse receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, you need only owe $150 in back child support to qualify for the IRS’ Income Tax Refund Offset Program. If they do not receive TANF benefits, the debt amount must be at least $500.

Will the IRS let me know?

The IRS will send you a Pre-Offset Notice after it receives a debt notice from your state and determines that your debt qualifies. You can dispute the amount, and an instruction portion for requesting an administrative hearing is contained in the notice. You will only receive one notice for this debt. Once this debt is paid off, if another debt is incurred, you will receive another Pre-Offset Notice for any future new amounts.

The IRS will send you an Offset Notice for each refund amount that it takes to pay down or pay off your child support arrears. You can also request an administrative hearing for this as well, and the information to request a hearing is contained in this notice too.

What if my spouse’s refund is taken?

If you filed jointly with your new Carlsbad, California, spouse, and the entire refund was taken (or the part that should have gone to your spouse), your spouse can request their portion be refunded directly to their account. Your spouse will need to file IRS form 8379 (Injured Spouse Claim and Allocation), and file it directly with the IRS.

Do not let it get this far

Ideally, you should not let your back child support get into arrears. If you cannot pay it, talk with your Carlsbad, California, lawyer because you may qualify for a modification.