Can Your Stimulus Check Be Taken Back to Pay Child Support?
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act brought much-needed assistance to Americans suffering from the economic downturn during the pandemic. The CARES Act gave qualifying individuals $1,200 and married couples $2,400. For each child aged 16 and under, parents received $500. Talks of the next stimulus package have been underway, with a second stimulus check forecast for some time in 2021. For parents paying child support, this raises the question: Can your stimulus payment be taken back if you are found to be delinquent in payments?
The short answer is yes. If you are behind on child support, you may receive a reduced stimulus check or not receive a check at all. Even though the checks are not garnished for overdue student loans or back taxes, they can be withheld for delinquent child support payments.
The federal government collects overdue child support through a program called the Child Support Federal Tax Offset. To collect past-due payments, the offset program can intercept tax refunds to cover the amount owed. In the same way, the government may offset stimulus checks to cover past-due support.
A tax refund or a stimulus check may be subject to an offset if the amount of child support owed is:
- $150 or more, if Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) aid has been received for the child.
- $500, if TANF has not been received for the child.
If your stimulus check is reduced or withheld, the federal government will send you an offset notice telling you that your payment has been applied to your child support debt. The notice will also tell you to contact the Georgia Department of Human Services’ Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) if you think there has been a mistake.
Otherwise, the money from your stimulus check will go to the DCSS, who will then will distribute the funds to the custodial parent.
If you have questions about child support payments or related legal uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, please get in touch with the Law Office of S. Mark Mitchell, LLC in Newnan. Our legal team is ready to help you navigate the complex realm of family law during these uncertain times. You can call 470-344-8550 or contact us online to arrange a free initial consultation to discuss your concerns.