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COLLECTION OF PAST-DUE SUPPORT FROM FEDERAL TAX REFUNDS

Sec464[42 U.S.C. 664] (a)(1) Upon receiving notice from a State agency administering a plan approved under this part that a named individual owes past-due support which has been assigned to such State pursuant to section 408(a)(3) or section 471(a)(17), the Secretary of the Treasury shall determine whether any amounts, as refunds of Federal taxes paid, are payable to such individual (regardless of whether such individual filed a tax return as a married or unmarried individual). If the Secretary of the Treasury finds that any such amount is payable, he shall withhold from such refunds an amount equal to the past-due support, shall concurrently send notice to such individual that the withholding has been made (including in or with such notice a notification to any other person who may have filed a joint return with such individual of the steps which such other person may take in order to secure his or her proper share of the refund), and shall pay such amount to the State agency (together with notice of the individual’s home address) for distribution in accordance with section 457. This subsection may be executed by the disbursing official of the Department of the Treasury.

(2)(A) Upon receiving notice from a State agency administering a plan approved under this part that a named individual owes past-due support (as that term is defined for purposes of this paragraph under subsection (c)) which such State has agreed to collect under section 454(4)(A)(ii), and that the State agency has sent notice to such individual in accordance with paragraph (3)(A), the Secretary of the Treasury shall determine whether any amounts, as refunds of Federal taxes paid, are payable to such individual (regardless of whether such individual filed a tax return as a married or unmarried individual). If the Secretary of the Treasury finds that any such amount is payable, he shall withhold from such refunds an amount equal to such past-due support, and shall concurrently send notice to such individual that the withholding has been made, including in or with such notice a notification to any other person who may have filed a joint return with such individual of the steps which such other person may take in order to secure his or her proper share of the refund. The Secretary of the Treasury shall pay the amount withheld to the State agency, and the State shall pay to the Secretary of the Treasury any fee imposed by the Secretary of the Treasury to cover the costs of the withholding and any required notification. The State agency shall, subject to paragraph (3)(B), distribute such amount to or on behalf of the child to whom the support was owed in accordance with section 457. This subsection may be executed by the Secretary of the Department of the Treasury or his designee.

(B) This paragraph shall apply only with respect to refunds payable under section 6402 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954[206] after December 31, 1985.

(3)(A) Prior to notifying the Secretary of the Treasury under paragraph (1) or (2) that an individual owes past-due support, the State shall send notice to such individual that a withholding will be made from any refund otherwise payable to such individual. The notice shall also (i) instruct the individual owing the past-due support of the steps which may be taken to contest the State’s determination that past-due support is owed or the amount of the past-due support, and (ii) provide information, as may be prescribed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services by regulation in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury, with respect to procedures to be followed, in the case of a joint return, to protect the share of the refund which may be payable to another person.

(B) If the Secretary of the Treasury determines that an amount should be withheld under paragraph (1) or (2), and that the refund from which it should be withheld is based upon a joint return, the Secretary of the Treasury shall notify the State that the withholding is being made from a refund based upon a joint return, and shall furnish to the State the names and addresses of each taxpayer filing such joint return. In the case of a withholding under paragraph (2), the State may delay distribution of the amount withheld until the State has been notified by the Secretary of the Treasury that the other person filing the joint return has received his or her proper share of the refund, but such delay may not exceed six months.

(C) If the other person filing the joint return with the named individual owing the past-due support takes appropriate action to secure his or her proper share of a refund from which a withholding was made under paragraph (1) or (2), the Secretary of the Treasury shall pay such share to such other person. The Secretary of the Treasury shall deduct the amount of such payment from amounts subsequently payable to the State agency to which the amount originally withheld from such refund was paid.

(D) In any case in which an amount was withheld under paragraph (1) or (2) and paid to a State, and the State subsequently determines that the amount certified as past-due support was in excess of the amount actually owed at the time the amount withheld is to be distributed to or on behalf of the child, the State shall pay the excess amount withheld to the named individual thought to have owed the past-due support (or, in the case of amounts withheld on the basis of a joint return, jointly to the parties filing such return).

(b)(1) The Secretary of the Treasury shall issue regulations, approved by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, prescribing the time or times at which States must submit notices of past-due support, the manner in which such notices must be submitted, and the necessary information that must be contained in or accompany the notices. The regulations shall be consistent with the provisions of subsection (a)(3), shall specify the minimum amount of past-due support to which the offset procedure established by subsection (a) may be applied, and the fee that a State must pay to reimburse the Secretary of the Treasury for the full cost of applying the offset procedure, and shall provide that the Secretary of the Treasury will advise the Secretary of Health and Human Services, not less frequently than annually, of the States which have furnished notices of past-due support under subsection (a), the number of cases in each State with respect to which such notices have been furnished, the amount of support sought to be collected under this subsection by each State, and the amount of such collections actually made in the case of each State. Any fee paid to the Secretary of the Treasury pursuant to this subsection may be used to reimburse appropriations which bore all or part of the cost of applying such procedure.

(2) In the case of withholdings made under subsection (a)(2), the regulations promulgated pursuant to this subsection shall include the following requirements:

(A) The withholding shall apply only in the case where the State determines that the amount of the past-due support which will be owed at the time the withholding is to be made, based upon the pattern of payment of support and other enforcement actions being pursued to collect the past-due support, is equal to or greater than $500. The State may limit the $500 threshold amount to amounts of past-due support accrued since the time that the State first began to enforce the child support order involved under the State plan, and may limit the application of the withholding to past-due support accrued since such time.

(B) The fee which the Secretary of the Treasury may impose to cover the costs of the withholding and notification may not exceed $25 per case submitted.

(c) In this part the term “past-due support” means the amount of a delinquency, determined under a court order, or an order of an administrative process established under State law, for support and maintenance of a child (whether or not a minor), or of a child (whether or not a minor) and the parent with whom the child (whether or not a minor) is living.


[206]  See Vol. II, P.L. 83-591, §6402.