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Tax refund offset: A way to collect past due child support

On Behalf of | Dec 5, 2019 | child support |

Many single parents in Michigan must make ends meet without receiving child support from their exes. Sometimes, the noncustodial parent may only owe a small portion of the total child support payments. Other times, the parents may owe almost the full amount due to the custodial parent.

Some people get away with not paying child support for years. For those who file a tax return for the fiscal year, it may catch up to them when it is time to get their annual tax refund. According to USA Today, before the new tax reform, the average American could get about two paychecks back in tax refunds during tax filing season.

When people owe back child support, however, the state and the federal government may use a tax offset to pay past-due child support. The federal government has exercised this practice since as far back as 1982. By 2013, it had collected over $35 billion on behalf of custodial parents through the practice of intercepting tax refunds. If the spouse of the person who owes the money is not legally responsible for child support, they may fill out From 8379 to attempt to protect their portion of the tax refund.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services confirms this practice and defines its parameters. Its threshold for a tax refund offset is the same as the federal level at $150 for cash assistance. For non-cash assistance, it sets a threshold of $500. The website also explains that the person owing the support may get the opportunity to object to the offset and provide valid reasons for doing so.

For single parents who have a difficult relationship with their exes, this may be the only way they can ensure their children get the financial support they need. Unfortunately, this often barely makes a dent in annual past-due payments.