What is a tax refund offset?
TROP was enacted by Congress to aid in the collection of delinquent child support by “offsetting” a tax refund that is due to the obligor and sending it to the custodial parent instead. Each state is responsible for notifying the IRS of any support-obligated parent with an arrears balance, which essentially places a “lien” on all or part of the non-custodial parent’s tax refund. The offset takes between 3 and 5 weeks to process because the refund must be sent from the IRS to the state collection and disbursement unit, and then applied to the balance owed.
Is my case eligible for TROP?
Most parents who are owed back support payments are eligible for TROP, but some extenuating circumstances may apply. Most states require the arrears balance to be a minimum of $500 (or at least four payments behind) in order to be eligible for an offset.
Keep in mind, however, that this is one of many potential offsets that could affect a non-custodial parent’s tax refund. Their refund could also be seized by the Federal Student Loan program or a state welfare program, both of which may take precedence over child support debt. In other words, a defaulted student loan may need to be paid first, before the refund can be applied towards child support.
If your ex has remarried and has filed a joint tax return, then you will need to wait six months for your payment. This is because their spouse is not obligated to pay his or her share of the tax refund toward your support balance. During this six month period, federal law allows the “injured spouse” to get their portion of the refund returned to them. As a result, your payment will be held in limbo until the grace period expires. If the new spouse fails to file a claim for their portion of the refund during that time, they have forfeited their rights to the money and you will receive the full amount of the refund.
Find out more about TROP and how you can benefit from this federally sponsored collection program. A Colorado Springs child support lawyer will work closely with your local child support enforcement agency to ensure your arrears balance is collected.