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Can federal tax refunds be intercepted to pay back child support?


It is an unfortunate fact that just because a child support order is in place after a divorce in Rhode Island doesn't mean it will be followed. Noncustodial parents may fail to meet their financial obligations by neglecting to pay child support in the full amount or on time. In fact, some noncustodial parents may fail to pay the required amount of child support at all. When this happens, certain child support enforcement actions may be taken. One enforcement tool that may be at one's disposal is the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program.


Through the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program, if a noncustodial parent has failed to pay a certain amount of child support, any tax refund going to them will be intercepted and sent to the Rhode Island child support program, under certain circumstances. Cases eligible for such an interception are those in which the noncustodial parent has a child support delinquency and the child will not become emancipated before the end of the year.

Noncustodial parents will be notified of the potential offset prior to the case being referred. They will be notified as to what amount of support is initially owed. The notification will also give the noncustodial parent information about how to contest the offset, if the person wishes to do so.

Once the offset occurs, the Internal Revenue Service will mail a notice to the noncustodial parent in explaining that part or all of the noncustodial parent's tax refund is being sent to child support office in the noncustodial parent's state. At this point, if the noncustodial parent needs more information, the parent should contact the person's area child support office. Offsets will first be applied to any amount owed to the state. After that, the offset will be applied to the delinquent payments owed to the child's custodial parent.

The Federal Tax Refund Offset Program is only one way to recover delinquent child support payments; there are others. This post, while informative, provides only a general overview of the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program, and cannot guarantee any specific result for an individual's unique case. Rhode Island parents who are not receiving their child support parents may want to seek legal help, to determine what enforcement actions they may take.

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