Can IRS tax refund be taken to pay child support?


Attorney Tom Olsen: Let’s go to Kathy in Merritt Island. Kathy, you're on News 96.5. Go ahead.

Kathy: Yes. My question is for the divorce attorney. My daughter is now 18 and when she was nine, her father was ordered to pay child support. Well, he stopped paying it when he was 13 and he is now about $38,000 in the arrears. We filed with the IRS and they were supposed to try to get it, but he went on disability and we never did get in.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay, let’s talk to Paul Newnum about this. Kathy’s got quite a situation in, Paul. And so then the first question is in that situation, did she go straight to IRS or did she have to reduce that $38,000 to a judgement first?

Attorney Paul Newnum: No, she didn’t have to reduce the $38,000 to a judgement first. That’s not necessary. That’s one of the tools that you can use to collect delinquent child support is if he gets a tax refund, for example, that tax refund can get assigned directly over to her. That often happens.

Attorney Tom Olsen: And would the average layman need the attorney’s help to accomplish that or could the average layman do that by themselves?

Attorney Paul Newnum: I would always advise getting legal help and at least getting some input from a lawyer. There is a way to do it yourself and there is a website,, that has a self-help section for consumers. But I would always advise you to get some input from an attorney because if you don’t know what rights you have, you can’t exercise those rights.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Just out of curiosity, if a client came to you and said, “I have unpaid child support, I think my ex-husband is going to get a big tax refund next year.” How hard is it to tell the IRS to send that refund to the mom?

Attorney Paul Newnum: It’s not hard at all. You inform the IRS, you can send them a copy of the judgement, and there should be a judgement of arrears and the clerk also issues what’s called an arrearage affidavit that shows the arrears.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Did we answer all of Kathy’s questions or there's something else you want to say about it, Paul?

Attorney Paul Newnum: I think that’s it.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay, very good.

Attorney Paul Newnum: Thanks, Kathy.