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What is the Federal Tax Offset Program?

If you're having trouble collecting child support that's owed to your child, then a program you may be interested in is the Federal Tax Offset Program. This program collects past-due support from non-custodial parents by taking the parent's federal income tax return or other federal income.

What do you have to do to qualify to use this program?

To be able to use this program, the parent must owe at least $150 on a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families case or $500 or more on a non-TANF case. As long as the individual owes that money and the support case is active, the custodial parent should be paying as required by the court. A valid Social Security number needs to be provided to find the non-custodial parent's income sources. You should seek out this income in the state where you began seeking child support.

How often is the case reviewed to make sure you still qualify for assistance?

To make sure you continue to qualify for support from the FTOP, each request is reviewed monthly and throughout the year at various intervals. If you have more than one case, they will all be submitted together as long as they each meet the criteria set by the program.

When will collections start, so you can start accounting for child support payments?

Once a collection action begins, the first month of collections will start in February. After that, money is collected and forwarded to the custodial parent monthly, but the processing time can take up to 6 weeks. Your attorney can help you determine when your specific payments will begin.

Source: Division of Child Support Services, "Federal Tax Offset Program," accessed Sep. 12, 2016

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