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Eligibility for Offset

The Tax Offset Program was started in the 1980's with Federal legislation mandating that child support agencies submit annually to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and to the State Department of Treasury lists of non-custodial parents that are behind in support. This list is then used to offset the non-custodial parent's tax refund, if any, in order to pay on their past due support.

The current dollar amounts that are used in determining eligibility for offset are:

  • $150 owed to either the custodial parent or the State of Michigan qualifies the payer for offset of State of Michigan tax refunds.
  • $150 owed to the State of Michigan or $500 owed to the custodial parent qualifies the payer for Federal Income Tax offset.
  • Starting in 2000, the list is updated with additions, deletions, or changes in amount due (both increases as well as decreases). The first step is a notification letter sent to the payer advising them of the intent to put a stop on their corresponding tax refund if the amounts are not paid in 3 months. Three months after this initial notice the payer is submitted to both the Michigan Department of Treasury and the IRS for offset if the arrears meet the above qualifications.

If tax offset money is received from the IRS from a joint tax refund and the money is due to the custodial parent, the FOC is required to hold the funds for six months. This gives the current spouse time to file a claim on what would be considered their portion of the refund. The form to file this claim is called an "Injured Spouse Form" and can be obtained from any accountant. The FOC office does not have these forms.

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