Your ex-spouse has been making regular child support payments, but the last few months have fallen far short of the court-ordered amount. They have a job, and you’ve asked the state Division of Child Support (DCS) to help you get what you are owed. However, you may be entitled to a federal tax refund to pay for child support.

Do I Qualify to Receive My Ex’s IRS Tax Return?

The IRS is authorized to withhold all or part of a non-custodial parent’s tax refund to pay past-due child support debt as long as:

  • There is a valid Social Security number on the case record for the non-custodial parent.
  • The non-custodial parent has an IRS refund due.
  • The amount owed in the case is greater than $500.
  • The entire amount must have been originally requested under a DCS support order.

Under current law, DCS can only redirect tax return funds to pay for back child support—it cannot be collected for a current monthly payment. In addition, the amount collected will be used to pay debt owed to the state before the remainder is sent to DCS. For example, if the children ever received public assistance, an amount of back support may be given to the state if the debt is $150 or more.

When Will I Receive Support Money From the IRS Refund?

It is up to the state where you applied for child support services to ask the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to collect a tax return. While the check may be sent to DCS about a month after the tax return has been filed, the check may be held by DCS if one of the parents contests the attachment. The funds will be held until an administrative review rules on the decision.

To find out how to get additional payments for back child support in Seattle, click the link at the top of this page to begin reading our FREE women's guide to divorce in Washington e-book.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington
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