Interception! Lost your stimulus check to child support?

Could there be a flag on that play?

One way the federal government collects late or defaulted debts like past-due taxes or missed student loan payments that Americans owe the government is by seizing debtors’ federal tax refunds to repay itself, rather than sending out those refunds to the intended taxpayers. This process is an “administrative offset.”

Administrative offsets to collect overdue child support

Another way the federal government uses administrative offsets is through the Treasury Offset Program. The Treasury Department uses administrative offsets to redirect tax refunds to state agencies that collect delinquent child support on behalf of parents who should have gotten them. The state agencies may also use the late child support to reimburse government agencies that have paid public benefits to such parents for support because their child support payments did not show up.

In Florida, that state agency is the Department of Revenue’s Child Support Program that helps collect late child support and reports support delinquencies to the Treasury Offset Program.

Stimulus payments will not go to child support debtors registered in the Treasury Offset Program

As most Americans know, Congress just passed and the president signed a $2 trillion spending bill meant to help meet the financial challenges of the coronavirus crisis, including one-time stimulus payments to eligible people.

For example, most individual taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes (AGIs) up to $75,000 will get $1,200 (married couples filing taxes jointly with AGIs up to $150,000 will get $2,400), plus $500 for each qualifying child. Above those AGI levels, the amount will gradually decrease as AGIs climb to $99,000 and $198,000, respectively, the level at which payments cease.

However, a parent who owes late child support may not receive a stimulus payment if the Florida Department of Revenue has reported the delinquency to the federal Treasury Offset Program. The stimulus bill temporarily stops almost all federal administrative offsets, except the Treasury Offset Program’s child support offsets. Accordingly, the Treasury Department will withhold stimulus checks from those child support debtors.

A stimulus check offset against a Florida child support delinquency will be sent to the recipient parent to whom it is owed or to reimburse the government for public benefits the parent received in place of the child support.

 

 

 

 

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  • The Law Office of Daniel E. Forrest represents individuals in Fort Lauderdale in high-asset divorce matters. Daniel Forrest is board-certified family lawyer and mediator serving the South Florida area.
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