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Past Due Child Support: How Does The Federal Tax Refund Offset Program Work?


A significant number of parents do not receive the full child support that they are due. In fact, the United States Census Bureau estimates that just 44 percent of custodial parents nationwide are getting the complete amount of child support that they are owed. In Florida, parents have a number of different child support enforcement tools available.

If child support is seriously delinquent and the parent is unwilling to cooperate, you may be entitled to intercept their tax refund. It is crucial that you have a basic understanding of how the tax refund seizures work for back due child support. In this article, our Clearwater child support enforcement attorney explains how the federal tax refund offset program works.

Delinquent Child Support and Tax Refund Offsets

The Florida Child Support Enforcement Bureau Must Certify the Obligation 

For the most part, child support enforcement is a state-based issue. Before a federal tax refund can be intercepted to cover overdue child support, the appropriate state agency must be involved in the case. In Florida, the Child Support Enforcement Bureau must submit and certify the following information to the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE):

  • The names of both parents;
  • The Social Security number of both parents; and
  • The exact amount of child support that is currently due. 

The Non-Custodial Parent is Entitled to a Pre-Offset Notice 

Once the information is received by the OSCE, the agency will prepare and send a ‘pre-offset’ notice to the non-custodial parent. The notice will inform them of the amount due, their right to challenge it, and the enforcement action that the federal government can take if the debt is not satisfied. This information action includes future federal tax refund offsets.

Notably, once a child support debt is entered into the federal system, the states are required to update it on a regular basis. However, the non-custodial parent is not entitled to receive a new notification each time the child support debt changes.  

The Department of Treasury Can Intercept Funds 

The Department of Treasury is the agency responsible for processing federal tax refunds. When they receive indication from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that a taxpayer is owed a refund, the Department of Treasury will check to see if that individual is subject to any offsets.

If there is an active child support offset, the tax refund can be immediately intercepted. From there, it will be re-rerouted and sent to the parent who is owed past child support. A post-intercept notice will be sent to the non-custodial parent confirming that their federal tax refund has been seized.

Call Our Florida Child Support Enforcement Lawyer for Immediate Help

At the Law Office of Gale H. Moore P.A., our Clearwater child support attorney is a diligent, solutions-focused advocate for parents. If you have any questions about child support enforcement and tax refund offsets, we are here to help. Contact us today to arrange a confidential review and assessment of your case. We represent parents in Clearwater and throughout the region, including in Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Largo, Pinellas Park, Oldsmar, and Town N’ Country.



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