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Delinquent child support and tax refunds

According to attorneys and other experts, noncustodial parents who have failed to make court-ordered child support may be forced to forfeit their annual tax refunds. Many parents in Maryland and other states who owe child support but are regularly making efforts to pay off their debt are frustrated when they lose their entire refund. Maryland parents who believe their child support orders are unfair may be able to secure a child support modification with the help of a qualified family law attorney.

In some cases, individuals are forced to pay sums that are based on outdated information and fail to account for sudden unemployment, medical emergencies or similar issues. These financial problems can be made even worse when these parents are denied their tax refunds by the IRS. "I feel if I am working the full year and paying my child support on time and paying some of my arrearage every week, I should at least get some of my income tax," explained one father.

Experts say that the IRS is entitled to claim any non-custodial parent's income tax return if he or she currently owes child support. The agency does not need to obtain permission to do so, but it must send each parent a letter informing him or her of the seizure and asking if that parent would like to attend an administrative hearing.

Administrative hearings allow parents to contest the amount of child support they owe, which can be an important lifeline. Experts say that parents who fail to present their side of a child support dispute at an administrative hearing often ruin their chances of obtaining their tax returns for years afterward. However, parents who are unable to significantly reduce their debt, to approximately one thousand dollars or less, during this hearing will likely not receive their tax refund.

Source: WREG, "Owe Child Support? No Tax Refund," Sabrina Hall, Feb. 1, 2013

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