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Tax Refund Seizure to Pay Child Support Debt - Stepparent's Injured Spouse Form

Posted by Anna Chludzinski | Apr 03, 2020 | 0 Comments

Stepparents can stop the IRS from taking his/her portion of the tax refund by filing an Injured Spouse Form.

What to do if your tax refund is being seized by the IRS to pay child support arrearages - Injured Spouse Form 

Are you behind on child support and your state child support enforcement agency collects your payments from you? If so then the IRS will take any money you were supposed to get as a tax refund and send it to your local child support enforcement agency to cover the arrears. This is commonly referred to as a tax refund seizure


Things you can do to prevent your tax refund from going to your ex:

  1. You can adjust your withholdings. You can adjust, raise or lower, the amount withheld from your paycheck in taxes so as to obtain a smaller refund at the end of the year. However, you should exercise care before doing this. While doing this may prevent your ex from getting your tax refund you could also end up owing money to the IRS comer tax season.  
  2. If you are married to someone else, you can file separate returns (married but filing separately). 
    1. If the child support debt belongs to your spouse and you want to avoid having your portion of the refund seized, you can file separate tax returns. However, if you file married but separate then you will lose out on the tax exemptions awarded to married individuals. Depending on how you set up your withholdings, (married, single, etc) when you first started your job and filled out tax paperwork, you could end up owing money on taxes at the end of the year.
  3. If you are married to someone who owes child support debt, but you do not, you can file an Injured Spouse Allocation” form.


Injured Spouse Form - Stepparents Are Not Responsible for Child Support Payments!

If you are married to someone who owes child support debt (arrearages) for a child that is not yours, you are not responsible for that debt. Stepparents are not responsible for child support payments or debt!

  • The IRS allows spouses to file a special form entitled “Injured Spouse Allocation,” which, if you filed your taxes married filing and jointly, allows you to keep your portion of the refund. 
  • The IRS typically calculates this amount based on how much money your employer withheld from your paycheck for taxes the previous year. 
  • It is important to file this form as soon as possible to ensure your portion of the tax return is not seized by the IRS and given to your spouse's ex. 
    • Accordingly, if you know your spouse is behind on his child support, you should ideally file this form when you file your taxes, or immediately after receiving notice of seizure.


What to Do If You Are Owed the Child Support And You Want The IRS to Seize Your Ex's Tax Return

If you want the IRS to seize the refund of the person who owes you child support whether or not you need to take any action will depend on how your child support is collected and paid. Do you receive payments directly through your ex or through your local child support enforcement agency? 

  • If your local child support enforcement agency collects payments from your ex then you do not need to do anything, your ex's refund will be seized automatically. 
  • However, if you do not receive your child support payments through your local child support enforcement office, then you need to petition the court to request it be collected in this way. If the court grants your petition then the IRS will send your ex's future refunds directly to you to satisfy the arrearage.


IRS Injured Spouse Form

About the Author

Anna Chludzinski

Anna Chludzinski has spent the entirety of her legal career as a trial attorney and continues this work as founder of Chludzinski Law, PLLC. Anna has extensive experience in all areas of criminal litigation and family law and is passionate about using that experience to defend her clients.


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