OKLAHOMA CAPITOL -- Oklahoma families owed child support could receive additional funds from the coming economic stimulus payments and under new criteria established by the Internal Revenue Service, an official with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) Child Support Enforcement Division (CSED) said.
We are poised to make a huge increase in collections,” said Jacki Brison, OKDHS CSED tax intercept coordinator. “The economic stimulus payment offsets can have a positive impact on Oklahoma children. This year, Oklahoma was one of 5 states that greatly increased the number of cases referred for IRS offsets.”
The IRS already intercepts any federal tax refunds that child support obligors are to receive. This year, the revenue service will also intercept economic stimulus payments. The IRS will use the 2007 tax return to determine eligibility and calculate the basic amount of the economic stimulus payment. The support may be owed to the state of Oklahoma to pay back Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) provided their children. Or, the funds will go directly to the custodial parent for past-due child support.
“Some delinquent child support obligors structure their lives and finances so it is not possible to enforce the payment of child support,” Brison said. “Tax refund offsets are often the only source of child support payments for these obligors’ children.”
However, the combination of the economic stimulus payment offsets and the new IRS criteria will help many Oklahoma families achieve greater self-sufficiency and financial stability, Brison said.
This year, CSED will receive offsets from individuals who owe interest on child support and parents whose children have reached the age of majority, which is18 in Oklahoma.
Because of upgrades in referral criteria, referrals to IRS jumped 35 percent from 90,213 persons who owed child support last year to 122,099 persons who owed support this year.
The criteria for offset referral have been increased this year to include interest of 10 percent annually owed on child support. Before, Oklahoma only referred principle amounts for offset. Now principle and interest are referred.
Those interest offsets are strictly earmarked for the families, Brison noted. No matter what kind of case created the child support debt, whether TANF or private, the interest amount offset will go directly to the custodial parent.
Another potential increase in offset comes from a criteria upgrade to allow the referral of cases where the child has reached the age of majority. This means cases that are still open for arrears and judgments on children who are now adults are referred to the IRS for intercept. This will help pay the custodial parent back for child-rearing costs not paid by the non-custodial parent during childhood.
Therefore, if CSED intercepts the same amount as last year from tax refunds and increases that with the new criteria being used while offsetting a significant amount of the economic stimulus payments, it could double or triple the number of families receiving help and the intercept amounts, Brison said.
“We are sure there will be an increase in IRS tax offsets this year,” said Gary Dart, CSED Director. “For this child support remedy to really have a substantial increase in positive outcomes for families, we hope all non-custodial parents file their taxes this year.”
"If you're due to receive an economic stimulus payment, and you owe past due federal taxes, or, if your account has been turned over to the Treasury Offset Program for past due child or spousal support, federal non-tax debts, past-due student loans or past-due state income taxes, your economic stimulus payment will be reduced by the amount of the outstanding debt," said David Stell, Oklahoma IRS spokesman.
For more information on the economic stimulus payments, or the OKDHS Child Support Enforcement Division, visit the OKDHS Web site.