If you owe child support and currently have an arrearage (past due child support), you may find out the hard way at tax time that the Attorney General can take your refund and apply it to your arrearage. They can take this action even without a court order specifically authorizing them to take a tax refund. I have seen refunds taken even when the person was making monthly payments on the arrearage when the arrearage was large enough. If you are married, this could also impact your spouse’s refund.
If the Attorney General takes your refund, it is very difficult (and maybe even impossible) to try and get it back. As far as they are concerned, you owe back child support and that money goes to the other parent.
If you owe back child support is there anything you can do to protect your tax refund? It’s simple. Do not withhold more taxes than you owe. If you are not getting a refund, there is no money to be seized. Although it is too late to go back and withhold less taxes for past years, you can make adjustments to your withholding going forward.
Obviously, I recommend that you take care of any child support arrearage as quickly as possible such that your child support is current. However, many people are taken by surprise when a much anticipated tax refund is taken.