Can Child Support Be Collected from Tax Refunds? A Texas Child Support Lawyer Explains.

Anyone behind in their child support payments could have the Texas child support enforcement office collect payments from their IRS tax refund to cover any arrears. This is often referred to as a tax refund seizure. The collected money will then be given to the appropriate child support agency by the IRS. There are certain steps a person can take to avoid a tax refund seizure or at least minimizes its effects on their finances. If you are looking to protect your tax refund from being garnished you should contact an experienced Texas child support lawyer to help you learn how you can accomplish this. 

Can Child Support Be Collected from Tax Refunds


Not every case involving child support payments are eligible for the Federal Tax Return Offset Program (FTROP). To be eligible, the support payments should be in arrears a minimum of $150 if a person is receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. If someone is not a participant in this program, child support must be in arrears a minimum of $500. 

Pre-Offset Notice

Individuals behind on their child support payments will be sent a Pre-Offset Notice by the Treasury Department. This informs them that a portion or all of their federal tax refund is scheduled to be sent to those who they owe child support. A Pre-Offset Notice will provide important information about the Federal Tax Refund Offset, as well as the possible denial of a passport, and other actions that can be taken by a child support agency. There will also be information provided about how a person can contest their debt amount and more. 


When a case is submitted, Texas will usually obtain child support from a tax refund offset within three weeks. Should the funds come from a tax return jointly filed, it may hold the money for as long as six months before disbursing them. The actual amount deducted from a tax refund could be different from the amount listed in a Pre-Offset Notice. The Treasury Department will have all the updated activity for a support obligation. It is possible for Texas to regularly update a debt amount but not issue a new notice when there is a change. 

Adjust Withholding

When you first start working for your employer, you’ll be told how much will be withheld from your paycheck to pay taxes. Making periodic changes and adjusting the amount withheld could result in a smaller or larger refund at year’s end. This must be done carefully or it could result in owing the IRS during the tax season. Should you be married, it is important to file separate returns. If one spouse wants to avoid having their joint return seized, it is important to file separate tax returns. 

Injured Spouse Allocation

If a married person gets a notice they can file an “Injured Spouse Allocation” form. This is for a married person who is not responsible for their spouse’s child support debt. The IRS will let them keep their portion of a return when they file this special form and have filed a joint tax return with their spouse. 

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Many people have benefited from filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The US bankruptcy code doesn’t permit individuals to eliminate their child support arrears. It does permit people to restructure their arrearage. This makes it possible for them to pay down what they owe between three and five years. The bankruptcy court makes child support in arrears a priority debt. A Texas Child Support Lawyer can help in this situation. 

The most effective way to avoid having a tax refund collected for child support is to remain current on payments. This is not a simple thing for many people. Emergency situations, as well as financial hardship, can make paying child support a struggle. It’s important to know there are options available when facing the loss of a tax return. Someone facing this should speak with a Texas Child Support Lawyer. They can help provide valuable legal options that will lead to the best possible result. 

Call our law offices today at any of our convenient locations and get a free consultation. 

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