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Can unpaid child support be collected from a tax refund?

If you’re owed child support from your ex, you can seek to have that money withheld from the one source that almost every American looks to for extra funds: a federal tax refund. Initiating such a service typically only requires that you contact the state child support enforcement office about enrolling in the tax intercept program. Most states require a nominal fee for enrollment in such programs. In North Carolina, that fee can be taken from the funds withheld from your ex-spouse’s return.

Federal tax intercept cases, made possible through the Federal Tax Refund Offset, are available to you provided you receive full services through the state child support agency. If your ex-spouse’s missed payments for non-public and public assistance equal or exceed $500 or $150, respectively, then your case may meet the state of North Carolina’s criteria for tax interception.

In cases where your ex-spouse has remarried, the funds from a joint return with his or her new spouse are held for six months. During that time, his or her new spouse may choose to either file an Injured Spouse form with the IRS claiming his or her portion of the refund, or choose to forfeit the entire refund amount towards the missed child support payments. Even after payment has been dispersed, the state maintains the right to adjust that payment for a period of up to six years should your ex file an amended return with the IRS.

While this information is not meant to serve as legal advice, it can be helpful to know, should your ex-spouse choose to not abide by your child support agreement.