Many questions about the Economic Stimulus Payment keep coming up. Some of the most common involve child support. The questions fall into two categories: owing and receiving child support.

If You or Your Spouse Owes Child Support

The IRS will withhold your payment up to the full amount, if you owe back child support. If you file a joint return and one spouse owes child support the IRS can withhold the entire tax refund and the stimulus payment. Again, the IRS will take the husbands share, the wife's share and any money for the children to pay child support. However, there is something you can do about it. See the Injured Spouse section below.

If You Are Owed Child Support

You could receive up to the full amount of the stimulus payment from the party that owes you child support. See the section above.

Injured Spouse Allocation

If the IRS claims all or part of your tax rebate or your economic stimulus payment because of money your spouse owes there is hope. You could file Form 8379 -Injured Spouse Allocation. This form notifies the IRS that you should receive money that was claimed to pay your spouses debt.

If you are determined to be an "injured spouse" the IRS will calculate your claim at up to 50% of the total stimulus payment. This means that the IRS will send you 50% of your stimulus payment even if your spouse (again usually the husband) owes money to the government or for child support.

If you have already filed form 8379 with the IRS for the 2007 tax year, then you will not have to file another one for the economic stimulus payment.

Examples

From the Office of Child Support Enforcement here are some examples:

Example 1 – Jane and John Doe are eligible for a $1,200 stimulus payment. John is offset for child support for the full amount of the stimulus payment ($1,200). Jane files an injured spouse claim against the stimulus payment offset. IRS would reverse or adjust $600 (50%) from the $1,200 offset for payment since this is the maximum portion to which Jane is entitled as the injured spouse.

Example 2 – Jane and John Doe are eligible for a $1,200 stimulus payment. John is offset for $800, paying off his remaining past-due child support. IRS sends Jane and John Doe a check for $400 for the remaining amount owed from the stimulus payment. Jane files an injured spouse claim against the stimulus payment. IRS would only reverse $200 from the offset amount of $800 as this, along with the $400 already disbursed by the IRS, would be equal to 50% ($600) of the original amount of the stimulus payment prior to offset.

Example 3 – Jane and John Doe are eligible for a $1,200 stimulus payment. John is offset for $400, paying off his remaining past-due child support. IRS sends Jane and John Doe a check for $800 for the remaining amount owed from the stimulus payment. Jane files an injured spouse claim against the stimulus payment offset. IRS would not reverse any portion of the offset as the couple had already received more than 50% ($600) of the original amount of the stimulus payment prior to offset.

A "Fair" Solution for Everyone

In the end the IRS has to claim the money from those that owe child support or debts to the government. On the other hand, it's unfair to take money from spouses and children, especially if they didn't have anything to do with the debt. Hopefully this information will help people achieve a fair solution in their situations.

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