Will I Get My Stimulus Check if I Owe Child Support?

As of this writing, millions of Americans have received automatic deposits and paper checks for their economic stimulus payments, but for many people, their checks were not as much as they expected.

The American economy was hit hard, very hard, by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Millions of people have lost their jobs and as a result, unemployment has swept the nation. To help combat the economic downturn, lawmakers passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) to help get cash circulating into our weakened economy.

Under the CARES Act, each qualifying individual is to receive a payment for $1,200 and married couples are to receive $2,400. And for those with children, they are to receive $500 per child age 16 and younger. That is one $500 check, per eligible child, per household. If the parents are divorced, they can’t each get $500 per qualifying child. Only the parent who is claiming the child as a dependent can get the $500.

Can the Treasury Department Seize Stimulus Payments?

You may have heard about the Treasury Offset Program (TOP). Under this program, the Department can seize 100% of a taxpayer’s tax refund to pay their back taxes, child support debt, and other, specific types of debts. Under the CARES Act, the Treasury Department CANNOT seize stimulus payments for back taxes, but it CAN and will seize funds to pay back child support. Here’s what you need to know:

  • If you are behind on child support and the state has referred your debt to the federal government for collection, your stimulus money will be seized.
  • Under the Act, if you owe back child support, the money from your stimulus check will be put toward your child support debt up to the full amount of the check.
  • If a spouse filed joint tax returns and their husband or wife has delinquent child support debt, their portion of the stimulus check may be reduced or eliminated altogether to go toward their spouse’s child support debt.
  • If your spouse owes child support and your stimulus check was seized, you can file for injured spouse relief to have your portion of the stimulus payment returned to you. You’ll need to file IRS Form 8379.

For legal assistance with a divorce, family law, or child support matter, we invite you to contact Kaplan Law L.L.C.