Skilled, Strategic, Responsive

  1. Home
  2.  → 
  3. Family Law
  4.  → Can I lose my tax refund because of unpaid child support?

Can I lose my tax refund because of unpaid child support?

For Alaska parents responsible for paying child support, you know that juggling that obligation, while maintaining your own standard of living is challenging. However, if you find yourself struggling or think you may fall behind, contact your divorce and family law attorney. Otherwise, in addition to several penalties you could face, the Internal Revenue Service could take your tax refund.

Federal Income Tax Refund Offset Program

The IRS program that can take your refund is called the Federal Income Tax Refund Offset Program. When the IRS is notified by Alaskan officials that a non-custodial parent owes back child support, they can intercept it to pay down the back child support.

The IRS uses the term, “offset” to describe these intercepts. The IRS also does this for court ordered spousal support, also known as alimony or maintenance.

Delinquency threshold

The standard delinquency threshold is $500, which means you need only have an unpaid child support balance of $500 or more to qualify for the IRS’s Federal Income Tax Refund Offset Program.

If the custodial parent has received or is receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits, the delinquency threshold drops to $150. For many, this is less than one payment.


If the IRS receives notice of your child support delinquency, you will receiver a Pre-Offset Notice to your last known address from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Management Service.

You will only receive one notice, even if the IRS will take multiple refunds. Your refunds will be offset until the reported delinquent child support balance reaches zero.

Mistakes happen

Any time you deal with a bureaucracy, especially when multiple bureaucracies work together, mistakes can happen. This is why you can appeal your inclusion into the IRS offset program or the amount to be offset.

Both the Pre-Offset Notice and the Offset Notice you receive after the refund is taken contain the information on how to request an administrative review.

Joint federal returns

If you filed a joint return, and the whole refund was taken, you can get some of the money back. Your spouse will need to file IRS form 8379-Injured Spouse Claim and Allocation on the Offset Notice.

The best way to avoid this situation is to ask for a Juneau, Alaska, child support modification, if you can no longer afford your child support payments.