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If I file a joint income tax return with my husband this year, will the IRS or the State of Illinois take our refund to pay his past due child support to his ex-wife?
The State of Illinois or the IRS may intercept your combined income tax refund if your husband owes unpaid child support to his former wife (or the mother of his child), even if he is now on a payment plan with the State of Illinois to pay that child support in installments.
Back Child Support and the Treasury Offset Program
The Department of Treasury's Financial Management Service (FMS) issues income tax refunds to taxpayers who have overpaid federal income taxes. FMS also has the right to offset a taxpayer's tax refund to pay certain debts, including past due child support. FMS offsets millions of dollars in federal tax refunds each year to pay child support that taxpayers have failed to pay.
All of the states participate in the Treasury Offset Program. In most cases, Illinois, or another state where the child support is owed, will send written notice to any taxpayer whose child support debt has been submitted to the Treasury Offset Program.
This notice provides an appeal process for a taxpayer who believes the child support debt is not owed, or believes the amount is incorrect. If you are unsure which state or agency has submitted the debt or offset, as a taxpayer you can contact FMS for the address and phone number from which the state or federal agency issued the offset notice.
Once the offset occurs, FMS sends a notice that sets forth the original amount of the taxpayer's federal income tax refund, the amount of the refund offset, and the contact information of the agency receiving the offset proceeds. If a taxpayer's federal income tax refund exceeds the child support debt owed, the taxpayer will receive the balance of the refund once the child support debt is paid in full.
If your husband's child support debt has been submitted to the Treasury Offset Program, and you file a joint federal income tax return with him, as the spouse you are not responsible for the child support debt. You should file the IRS Form 8379 –Injured Spouse Allocation–to claim your portion of the joint tax refund.
A spouse can file Form 8379, along with the joint tax return, or it can be filed by itself. The IRS will determine the portion of the tax refund that belongs to the spouse who does not owe the child support debt, and they will refund that portion to the spouse before the offset occurs.
If you have questions regarding tax on past due child support, or you are interested in filing for child support, contact an experienced Illinois child support attorney today. From our Hinsdale office, we serve clients in DuPage, Cook, Kane, Kendall, and Will Counties.