Sometimes the IRS keeps all or a portion of the federal refund a citizen was expecting. If you’re one of those people and you’re wondering why, it may be because you owe money for certain delinquent debts. If that is true, the IRS or the Department of Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS), which issues IRS tax refunds, can offset or reduce your federal tax refund or withhold the entire amount to satisfy the debt.
Important facts you should know about tax refund offsets:
- If you owe federal or state income taxes your refund will be offset to pay those tax liabilities. If you had other debt such as child support or student loan debt that was submitted for offset, BFS will take as much of your refund as is needed to pay off the debt, and send it to the agency authorized to collect the debt. Any portion of your refund remaining after an offset will be refunded to you.
- The law prohibits the IRS from using liens or levies to collect any Affordable Care Act individual shared responsibility payment (the tax for not having required minimum essential health care coverage). However, if you owe a shared responsibility payment, the IRS may offset that liability against any tax refund that may be due to you.
- You will receive a notice if an offset occurs. The notice will reflect the original refund amount, your offset amount, the agency receiving the payment, and the address and telephone number of the agency.
- You should contact the agency shown on the notice if you believe you do not owe the debt or you are disputing the amount taken from your refund.
- If you filed a joint return and you are the spouse who is not responsible for the debt, but are entitled to a portion of the refund, you may request your portion of the refund by filing IRS Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation If you know that your spouse has outstanding debts and anticipates an offset, you can attach Form 8379 to your original Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040EZ. Or it can be filed by itself after you are notified of an offset.
- If you file a Form 8379 with your return, write “INJURED SPOUSE” at the top left corner of the Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ. IRS will process your allocation request before an offset occurs.
- If you are filing Form 8379 by itself, it must show both spouses’ social security numbers in the same order as they appeared on your income tax return. You, the “injured” spouse, must sign the form. Do not attach the previously filed Form 1040 to the Form 8379. Send Form 8379 to the Service Center where you filed your original return.
- If you reside in a community property state, overpayments (refunds) are considered to be joint property and are generally applied (offset) to legally owed past-due obligations of either spouse. There are exceptions, so please call for additional details if this rule affects you.
- The IRS will compute the injured spouse’s share of the joint return for you. Contact the IRS only if your original refund amount shown on the BFS offset notice differs from the refund amount shown on your tax return.
For assistance with IRS withheld refunds or completing Form 8379, please get in touch with us at Dagley & Co.
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