Can Tax Refunds Be Intercepted to Cover Unpaid Child Support?

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Yes, the tax refunds of individuals who owe back child support can be intercepted by the government through the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program, also known as "Project Intercept."

Eligibility for the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program

Not all delinquent child support cases are eligible. In order for an individual's tax refund to be intercepted for unpaid child support through the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program, certain minimums apply:

  • Child support must be at least $150 in arrears if the child support recipient also receives TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).
  • Child support must be at least $500 in arrears in situations where the recipient does not receive TANF.

How the Program Works

Each year, your state’s Office of Child Support Enforcement makes a list of those cases that are eligible for the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program, and that list is submitted to the Treasury Department's Financial Management Service. In addition, the FMS then sends a “Pre-Offset Notice” to each obligor, letting them know that part--or all--of their federal tax refund is scheduled to be intercepted and sent to the child support recipient. Receipt of the offset refund can take up to six months.

How to Make a Request Pertaining to Your Case

If you believe that your case should be eligible for the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program, or you suspect that the obligor has received his or her tax refund in error, contact your local Office of Child Support Enforcement.

Source:
"Federal Tax Refund Offset Program." Federal Parent Locator Service. Administration for Children and Families. 5 Mar. 2009 <https://www.acf.hhs.gov/css/resource/federal-tax-refund-offset-program-information-for-families>.