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Ed Johnson
Ed Johnson, Tax Preparer
Category: Tax
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Experience:  GPHR Cert; U.S. Treasury Tax Advocacy Panel appointee
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my tax refunds are being garnished by child support agency,can

Resolved Question:

my tax refunds are being garnished by child support agency,can it be negotiated so that half of it be garnished instead of the whole amount. with five children to support I can really use some of that refund.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  Ed Johnson replied 7 years ago.



Thank you for your question,


The tax refunds are really not being garnished. Although, it does amount to the same thing. But legally there is a difference. Your tax refunds are being offset by child support debt according to federal laws.


Garnishment is a process that comes to you through the courts. If this were a garnishment, it would have come to you from the courts. That is: child support enforcement or health and family services, etc would have gotten a garnishment order from the court to be submitted to the IRS. This is not what is happening.


What is happening is that the agency in your state who is responsible for the child support enforcement has submitted the debt to the U.S. Treasury Offset Program. This program offsets income tax refunds with debts from government agencies,student loans, the courts, and the states, child support and alimony (spousal support).


In order to get it reduced, you have to go back to the agency who referred it to the offset program. If you can make arrangements with them that are satisfactory in regards XXXXX XXXXX up arrearages or back child support, they can then withdraw the offset either in part or in whole.


The IRS has no control over the offset,and so they can not reduce it. They are required by law to follow the offset referral.


when they started the offset you should have been given a letter indicating the office and phone number to call in about your offset. If not, then you need to go to child support enforcement for your county or your states health and human services. Some states use family and child services.


If this were a garnishment you would be able to go back to the court and petition for a hardship reduction or waiver. However since this is not a garnishment, you do not have that option. Your only option here is to negotiate with the agency directly with a plan they will find satisfactory enough to reduce or withdraw the offset.


You can read more about the offset program at this link:


If you are fliing a joint return, you can have your spouse, who is not resonsible for your child support, to file an injured or innocent spouse request to apportion or allocate the refund so that she gets her part. In this way, if filing a joint return, you get a bit more back than you would otherwise.




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