The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) issued a Dear Colleague Letter stating that noncustodial parents who receive stimulus payments under the CARES Act may have the checks offset by past due child support payments [DCL-20-02, 4-13-20].
On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act became law. The CARES Act provides qualifying individuals a recovery rebate of up to $1,200 (or $2,400 if married and filing jointly), plus up to $500 for each qualifying child. The IRS has started sending the payments already.
Past Due Payments
The CARES Act intentionally exempts these payments from reduction or offset against certain debts, but there is no exemption for child support debt. “As a result, the economic impact payments made to eligible noncustodial parents who owe past-due child support and who are subject to intercept under the Federal Income Tax Refund Offset Program will be offset by the amount of past-due child support,” OCSE said.
The noncustodial parent’s payment will not be offset if the debt does not exceed the minimum requirement for federal tax refund offset at the time of the match. Generally, this is at least $150 in past due support for the offset to apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Title IV-E foster cases and $500 for non-TANF/IV-E or Medicaid-only cases.
Courtesy of the APA