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4th stimulus check

Will My 4th Stimulus Check Be Affected If I Owe Child Support and Taxes?

The stimulus checks are designed to provide support during the coronavirus pandemic are seen by many taxpayers as much-needed handouts. However, if you’re behind on child support, you may not receive a check at all.

The stimulus checks are designed to provide support during the coronavirus pandemic are seen by many taxpayers as much-needed handouts. However, if you’re behind on child support, you may not receive a check at all.

Child support payments are a legal obligation, just like paying taxes. Therefore, if you fall behind, steps will be taken to ensure that all payments due are made.

Recipients of child support in Colorado can file a “motion for contempt” in court if the person who is responsible for paying child support has fallen behind in payments. If the Judge finds the payor of child support in contempt, it is a serious offense as it means he or she has violated a court order.

If you’re worried about child support contempt, submit a free case evaluation to our attorneys or give us a call at 720.594.7360.

What happens if you’re found in contempt

One of the available remedies in a contempt action is that the Judge can order the individual to be sent to jail until the appropriate payments are made. An order can be issued for the collection of payments by the Child Support Enforcement Unit (CSEU), which may use any of the following methods to collect payment:

  • Garnishment of earnings
  • Garnishment of assets (property, bank accounts, etc.)
  • Liens on house, land, or other real property
  • Liens on vehicles or other items of value
  • Order to sell real property
  • Collection from IRS income tax refunds
  • Collection from state lottery winnings
  • Collection from unemployment compensation benefits
  • Collection from gambling winnings

Stimulus checks have been added to this list.

Will you get your stimulus check?

Just as back-payments of child support can be collected from federal tax returns, they can also be collected from your stimulus check.

So, if you are behind on payments, you may not get a stimulus check or it may be reduced by the amount of money you owe.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides qualifying single parents with a stimulus payment of $1,200 (provided their income does not exceed $112,500) plus $500 for each dependent (under the age of 17) according to their tax returns.

The legislation suspends some debts to ease the financial stress for those in need. This includes overdue student loans or back taxes, which would normally trigger garnishment of tax refunds, but it does not apply to delinquent child support payments.

The CARES Act, in fact, specifies that the only reason a stimulus check can be offset is for overdue child support.

Your stimulus check will, therefore, be garnished for the appropriate amount of unpaid child support if the recipient has made the authorities aware of it.

The rationale behind this is that the recipient of child support is reliant upon that money to raise the child(ren). The interests of the children always come first, so non-payment is considered a serious breach of a court order.

People with low incomes who have children are among the most reliant upon child support payments to provide and care for the children, so garnishment of stimulus checks is seen as a way to ensure they receive the payments pursuant to the Court’s order.

An individual who files a joint tax return with their spouse, who is late with payments, may even suffer garnishment from their stimulus check or tax refund. This applies even if the spouse is solely responsible for the debt…

How does garnishment of checks work with joint tax returns?

Generally speaking, the IRS works closely with the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) and is fully aware of those who have fallen behind on child support payments.

This round of stimulus checks is based upon either 2018 or 2019 tax returns, whichever was filed most recently. Normally, if you file a joint tax return with a spouse who owes child support, the amount owed would be taken out of any tax rebate due. You would apply for injured spouse relief at the same time as filing.

If successful, you would still receive a check rather than having your share of the rebate being garnished for late child support payments.

How does withheld stimulus money get paid in child support?

Any stimulus payment reduced or withheld due to outstanding child support payments will go to the CSEU in Colorado.

From there, the office will issue the money to the custodial parent, who is due the child support. At present, it is difficult to generalize about how long this process will take.

What can you do about child support payment problems?

Many separated parents are facing additional hurdles in these difficult times, including financial hardship from the loss of employment and earnings due to pandemic lockdowns. This has caused many to fall behind on child support payments.

Non-payment of child support can have far-reaching effects beyond a reduced or canceled stimulus check. Freedoms, employment, credit rating, and other aspects of life can be affected – and a child’s upbringing can suffer.

It can be difficult times for the recipient, the payor, and most importantly, the children.

If you’re facing difficulties or problems with child support, speak to one of our child support attorneys at Colorado Legal Group. We provide a free case evaluation and advise you of your legal options.