Tax Refunds and Back Due Child Support: A Guide

Delinquent child support is a major issue in North Carolina and throughout the country. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that less than half of custodial parents receive the full amount owed. State and federal regulations allow for the intercept of a tax refund to cover back due child support obligations. In this blog post, our Monroe family law attorney explains the key things to know about delinquent child support and tax refunds in North Carolina.

North Carolina Child Support Services (CSS) Will Facilitate a Tax Refund Intercept

North Carolina Child Support Services (CSS) is administered through the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the state agency responsible for intercepting a state or federal tax refund to cover delinquent child support once an order for support is entered. It is only for past-due support. In effect, this means that a custodial parent who wants to initiate a tax refund intercept to get the child support they are owed must be working with state officials. Under CSS policy, the agency will only initiate a federal tax refund intercept if:

  • At least $500 is owed in a non-public assistance case;
  • At least $150 is owed in a public assistance case; or
  • The state may intercept a state tax refund if there is at least $50 due in past support.

As a general rule, any tax refund intercept will be used to cover money owed to the state first. Any remaining funds can then be sent to the custodial parent who is owed child support by the non-custodial parent. To be clear, a refund can only be intercepted if one is actually issued by the IRS or NCDOR. If a non-custodial parent owes their tax, there will be no refund.

Non-Custodial Parent Rights: Notification

A non-custodial parent who owes child support has rights under state and federal law. Most notably, the parent who owes delinquent child support must be notified before a tax refund is actually intercepted and re-routed to the other parent to cover their outstanding financial obligation. The non-custodial parent will receive a legal document called a ‘pre-offset notice.’ The notice will state:

  • That a tax refund intercept has been initiated;
  • The amount that will be taken by authorities; and
  • The steps that a non-custodial parent needs to take to challenge the intercept.

Under North Carolina law (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 105A-8), the state agency must notify the non-custodial parent within ten (10) days that a tax refund intercept has been initiated. The non-custodial parent has the right to request a hearing (appeal) if they choose to do so. In general, a parent who owes back due child support in North Carolina has 30 days to request a hearing to challenge a tax refund intercept.

Speak to Our Family Law Attorney in Monroe, North Carolina

At Perry, Bundy, Plyler & Long, LLP, our North Carolina family lawyers have deep experience handling child support cases. If you have any questions about delinquent child support and tax refunds, we are here to protect your rights and financial interests. Contact us now for a fully confidential initial consultation. We provide family law representation in Monroe and all around the area, including in Indian Trail, Matthews, Weddington, Waxhaw, and Lake Park.