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Merlo, Accountant
Category: Tax
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Experience:  25+ years tax consulting. Specializing in returns for US citizens living abroad
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My ex owes back child support, $21,000 and he has wage garnish

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My ex owes back child support, $21,000 and he has wage garnish ment of $62.00 a week for this. Last year his tax return was taken to pat back support and kept by the state for amounts when I was on state assistance (2 years) Now the state has been paid what is owed but I am still owed this $21,000 and he is saying he is not going to file taxes as he won't get the money anyway. I have contacted the local child support office about this and they said they can't force him to file a tax return and it is legal for him not to do so. Is this true. I worked very hard to support my child who is 22 now and would like to pay some debts and help her with whatever she would like (school, car, thing I just could not do before) He did everything he could to avoid paying as lng as he could and I just can't believe he can legally do this. Please help.
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  Merlo replied 8 years ago.
Hello froggie,

Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to force him to file a tax return.

The IRS and the states both do require that you file a return, once your income exceeds a certain limit. The limit for 2008 was $8,950 for a single person and $17,900 for a married couple. If earnings were under that amount, then a return does not need to be filed.

If he had earnings over the limit, then the IRS may contact him, but only if it appears that he owes more tax than what he paid in through his payroll deductions. The IRS and the state has copies of his W-2 forms which will show the income he received and will also show the tax he paid in for the year. If he had enough taxes withheld to cover what he owes on his earnings, then the IRS may not even contact him to file a return. If it appears that he did not have enough tax withheld, then they would send him a notice of his tax deficiency, which would then force him to file a return. However,if he ends up owing tax, then obviously that will not be of any benefit to you, as there would be no refund to offset for the child support.

If he waits more than 3 years to file a tax return, any refund to which he may have been entitled would be forfeited and would be of benefit to no one.

There is one thing that you can try, although there is still no guarantee that the IRS would contact him to file. But you can fill out Form 3949A and send it to the IRS. The form is an information referral to report taxpayers who are not following regulations. One of the things you can report is failiure to file a return. This may at least get the IRS attention, and hopefully they would contact him to file.

I realize it may be hard to reason with him on this, but he should understand that if he has a refund coming, then at least by filing and having the refund go towards the support he owes, this would reduce his overall liability to you. It does not make good sense for the refund to benefit no one, and perhaps even be lost entirely if he waits too long to file.

If this was helpful please press the Accept button. Positive feedback is also appreciated.

Thank you.
Merlo and other Tax Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Would retaining an attorney to make him file help or not worth it?
Expert:  Merlo replied 8 years ago.
Hello again froggie,

Hiring an attorney would be of no help. They still cannot force him to file a tax return.

Even the IRS cannot force him to file a return if he chooses not to. The IRS can and will make him pay any tax they think he might owe based on the information they have from his job, but they cannot actually make him file a return.

An attorney may be able to help you in other ways, such as placing a lien on his property or something of that nature, but since I am not an attorney, I do not really know for certain what other options, if any, might be available. I just know they cannot force him to file a tax return.

Thank you froggie.

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