The Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have advised state child support agencies of a significant increase in the number of fraudulent income tax filings resulting in fraudulent tax refunds.
Tax refunds can be directed to the state child support agencies for past-due child support. This redirection of a tax refund is referred to as an offset. The Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement has authorized state child support agencies to hold tax refund offsets until the IRS completes their review. We are reviewing all tax refund offsets received from the IRS and placing holds on refunds that may be based on incorrect or fraudulent tax filings. When the IRS review is complete, the IRS notifies the State that they will either reverse the collection (take it back), or that the State can process the collection.
It is important to note that not every tax refund offset that is held is due to a possible incorrect or fraudulent tax filing. Federal regulations also authorize the Child Support Program to hold offsets if they are the result of a joint tax return. These offsets are held for 170-days and this time period gives the co-filer, who does not have a past-due support obligation, time to file documentation with the IRS to separate the refund so we only keep what is owed by the other co-filer.
We know that holding a tax refund offset can be difficult for customers expecting to receive the offset or expecting to be credited for a child support payment. The IRS website provides more detail about fraudulent tax filings and information on personal identity theft.