Everyone knows there are consequences to not paying court-ordered child support, including jail time. However, what many do not know is that the federal government can get involved as well. Indeed, if you owe child support, your Internal Revenue Service tax refund could be taken to pay off that Los Angeles, California, child support debt.
Federal Income Tax Refund Offset Program
Tax refunds are taken through the Federal Income Tax Refund Offset Program. The IRS calls the taking of refunds offsets because they offset the child support debt.
How do I know if I am in the FITROP?
If you were referred to the FITROP by a California agency, you will receive a Pre-Offset Notice. This notice will include who to appeal to and the amount of child support owed. However, it will not state how many refunds will be taken as your refunds will be taken until the outstanding balance is zero. That Pre-Offset Notice will be the only one you receive unless you are referred by another state.
Notices after refunds are taken
While you will only receive one Pre-Offset Notice, you will receive an Offset Notice after every refund the IRS takes to pay your back child support. This notice will also have information on where to appeal the amount taken (and your inclusion into the program).
What about joint filings?
For those who have remarried or who are filing joint Los Angeles, California, tax returns, it is possible that your joint return could be taken entirely. If that happens, your new spouse can request a partial refund because the new spouse does not have your child support obligation. To receive the partial refund though, your spouse will need to file the IRS form 8379-Injured Spouse Claim and Allocation.
Avoid it upfront
Before falling behind on Los Angeles, California, child support payments, you can request a child support modification. This can avoid all the consequences associated with unpaid child support and prevent having your IRS refund taken to offset back child support.