Child Support Arrears and the IRS…Can They Take My Refund?

Alan R. Burton Attorney at Law

Just when you were thinking about all the different ways in which you were going to spend your tax refund, reality sets in, and you realize that the IRS has intercepted your money. How can they do this; is it really possible; can the IRS take my refund and apply it against child support that I owe? The answer is YES!

The authority of the IRS to intercept tax refunds was established pursuant to Title IV-D of the Social Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code. The program is known as TRIP, or the tax refund intercept program.

The TRIP program is administered by the Florida Department of Revenue in cooperation with the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The authority of the Department of Revenue to act in this capacity is found in Sections 409.2554(1) & 409.2557(1) of the Florida Statutes, (2008).

This does not mean that the TRIP program is absolute, and without safeguards for the taxpayer. A delinquent parent does have rights. A delinquent parent is one who owes at least $500.00 in past due child support. This parent must first be certified by the State of Florida to the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement. If the intention exists to intercept the taxpayer’s refund, he or she must be given 30 days advance notice in which to challenge the action. The procedure to be followed in challenging the action along with an analysis of the TRIP program can be found in the case of Florida Department of Revenue, Child Support Enforcement, o/b/o Tammy J. Baker v. Harvey Baker, 1st District Case No. 1D09-1929, decided on December 31, 2009.

You may feel that the amount of child support arrears that is owed may be inaccurate, or you believe that there are no arrears or delinquencies. Don’t delay in bringing this to the attention of the court. Get a hearing scheduled and get the matter clarified before year end. It will save you a lot of time and energy by taking a proactive approach with this issue, rather than a reactive one.

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