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Frequently Ask Questions (FAQ)

Tax Refund Questions

My spouse owes child support.  How can I get my share of the refund?

If a couple filed a joint return and only one of them is liable for child support payments, in non-community property states the other spouse can file an amended return to receive his or her share of the tax refund. The person who is not responsible for the child support debt can file tax Form 8379, the Injured Spouse Claim and Allocation. You can get Form 8379 by calling the IRS (listed in your telephone directory) or by visiting the Treasury Department website at:"
Follow the instructions on Form 8379 carefully and provide the required documents.

If you are in a community property state, check with the IRS or the Child Support Enforcement (CSE)  agency to see whether the spouse's share of the refund is exempt from the offset or not.

My Federal tax refund was offset for child support. I don't owe child support. What can I do?

You should have received a "Pre-Offset Notification Notice," telling you that you were submitted for refund offset. The notice should have contained a State number to call if you believe you were submitted in error.

States submit cases for tax offset and are responsible for fixing errors. Locate you state child support agency at

I pay child support, yet I am not able to deduct it from my Federal taxes. Is there anything I can do?

IRS Publication 504 addressing issues relating to divorced or separated individuals provides the following:
Child support. A payment that is specifically designated as child support or treated as specifically designated as child support under your divorce or separation instrument is not alimony. Child support payments are neither deductible by the payer nor taxable to the payee. The publication which discusses the above paragraph is available at:

For dependency claims: Under domestic relations tax provisions set forth by the Internal Revenue Code, for divorced, separated or unmarried parents, the parent who has custody for a greater portion of the calendar year is entitled to the dependency exemption for the child (See 26 U.S.C. 152(e)

In some cases, a court or administrator will address the issue of who can claim the dependency. Also, the parent with custody can provide the other parent with a written statement that he/she may take the exemption for a given year. He or she can then attach the statement to his/her income tax, using IRS form 8332, and claim the child(ren) as dependents for a given tax year. To obtain IRS Form 8332 and other IRS Forms and Publications, visit the IRS Web site at

In the case of parents who have never married, the IRS gives information about who can be claimed as a dependent in their form 501 "">

I pay regularly, but my tax refund is being offset. What can I do?

States are required to submit cases for federal tax offset that meet the federal mandated criteria.

If you believe you have been submitted in error, get in touch with your State Child Support Enforcement Office.  Locate you state child support agency at

The Child Support Agency is not sending the money that was taken from the noncustodial parent's taxes?

It takes three to five weeks from the time the money is offset from the obligor's tax refund until the time the state receives it. States are permitted to hold Non-TANF collections from joint tax returns for up to six months in case the obligor's spouse who does not owe child support files for his or her share of the refund. If your local CSE office is not able to tell you when you will receive the money, please check with the State CSE agency.

What can be done if the parent who owes child support won't file for taxes?

The law does require people to file a tax return if their income is above a certain level.  Refer to the website for that specific amount as this amount varies year to year. 

If you suspect or know of an individual or company that is not complying with the tax laws, you may report this activity by completing Form 3949-A You may fill out Form 3949-A online, print it and mail it to: Internal Revenue Service Fresno, CA 93888.

Non-custodial Parent Questions

My child's parent has disappeared with my child.  What can I do?

You can contact the child support enforcement (CSE) office in the state that entered the custody/visitation order to ask how to proceed. One of the services of the Office of Child Support Enforcement is helping to locate children in parental kidnapping cases.

Federal law allows the use of the Federal Parent Locator Service (FPLS) in parental kidnapping or child custody cases (including cases in which the custodial parent has hidden the child in violation of a visitation order) if:

1) a civil action to make or enforce a custody order has been filed in the State courts; or
2) a criminal custodial interference case is being investigated or prosecuted.

Who can help me to see my children?

Although visitation is not in the same office as child support, the state CSE agency should be able to tell you who can help with custody and visitation enforcement in the state. Family law, including parental rights, is under the jurisdiction of the individual states, and the Federal government cannot intervene.

I pay child support but I do not think my payments are being used for my child.  What can I do?

Child support money helps provide food, clothing, and shelter for children. It may reimburse the state and federal Government for welfare payments already given to the family, or it can go directly to the custodial parent if she/he is working and not receiving money from the government. If you are worried about child abuse, or think that your children do not have proper food or clothes, or that they are not safe where they are living, you might contact the state office for child abuse and neglect.

My children are not living with their mother/father anymore, but the child support office is making me pay child support anyway. What should I do to get this corrected?

State child support enforcement agencies must enforce orders as established by a court or administrative authority. In order to close the case you would need to have the order changed by filing a petition to suspend or terminate child support. You can contact the State CSE for specific requirements.

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