If you owe past-due child support, the IRS can take your tax refund to pay the debt, and it’s quite likely that they will. Thankfully, there are some avenues of relief available, including for new spouses of parents who have arrears.
Find Out if Your Tax Refund is at Risk
The first thing to do if you are the person who owes past-due child support is to check to see whether you are on the U.S. Treasury Offset List. Offsets can be put in place for many reasons. Past-due child support and student loan offsets are common. You can call the US Treasury at 1-800-304-3107 to see whether you’re likely to have your refund confiscated. You might be worried that calling the number will actually alert the IRS to the fact that you owe child support but trust us, they already know.
File Your Tax Return
The IRS will start processing 2020 tax returns on Friday, February 12. The final day to submit your tax return to the IRS is Thursday, April 15. Extensions for filing your return are available, but if you owe taxes, late-payment penalties start to accrue on April 16.
It may benefit you to file even if you don’t think you owe taxes. If you qualify for the Earned Income Credit, Child Tax Credit, and other tax provisions, you may receive a substantial refund. This money can go a long way toward reducing your child support obligations. Free help is available through the IRS hotline at 1-800-829-1040 and through the Free File Alliance.
If You’ve Remarried, Have Your Spouse File Separately
Single dads with child support debt often worry about how their financial situation will impact a new partner and for good reason. If you’ve remarried and file jointly, the IRS can seize your whole tax refund to cover your debts. The answer is to file separate returns, however note that you may also miss out on other key benefits of filing jointly, so it pays to go over your situation with an accountant.
If You’ve Already Filed Jointly Have Your Spouse File an Injured Spouse Allocation
If you have already filed jointly, you can have your spouse file an Injured Spouse Allocation. Your spouse can file the Injured Spouse form without amending your return. Please see the form instructions for more details.
Tax season can be stressful and may be particularly fraught with headaches this year. Unemployment fraud, stimulus payment hiccups, and temporary changes regarding debt payments can complicate matters. You’ll be able to weather those challenges easier if you’re prepared. Before you file your taxes, check to see if there are offsets that will take money from your refund.