You’ve checked to see if you’reand looked into how much your could add to the bottom line, but you’re still not sure how the slightly different rules apply to parents who pay or receive child support. If you’re worried about winding up with less than the $1,200 you expect, as happened to many parents with , we can help explain how to find out.
But there are situations, too, where parents who are separated or divorced and share joint custody can each get an extra $500 per child as part of their check. It has everything to do with(again, keep reading for an explanation). One other thing you should know is that overdue child support is one of the few times the .
That may or may not change with a possible, if one is eventually approved as part of . ( .) Some lawmakers support garnishing child support arrears, others don’t, and it won’t be set in stone until a new law is passed.
Until then, here’s everything you should know about stimulus checks and child support, likefor your on either side of that financial equation. If you need a specific monetary estimate, try our , and here’s . This story updates often.
States have deducted child support from stimulus checks
Although the government prevented debts like overdue student loans and back taxes from being taken from the first round of stimulus checks, one type of debt not covered by those protections was overdue child support, also known as “arrears” or “arrearage.” If you owe more than $150 in arrears, your state may reserve the right to garnish some or all of your first stimulus check, based on how much you owe.
And if you’re owed child support, you may receive money garnished from your child’s other parent, although how long it takes to get to you depends on a lot of factors (the money has to process through the state, which will then issue it to you).
Rules for any future checks could change
Depending on which language is incorporated into the— if one is passed at all — past-due child support may or may not be garnished again. , a proposal that was passed in the House of Representatives but is not law, specifically prohibited reducing or offsetting the amount of stimulus checks to pay a child support debt. The , which is also not law, allowed it. It’s unclear where the under stands on the matter.
If child support was mistakenly garnished, there’s a way to get it back
Although states had the right to garnish CARES Act stimulus check money from parents who owed back child support, the IRS, which issued the checks, says it didn’t mean to allow states to also deduct from a current (nonparent) spouse’s stimulus check as well.
If you are now married to someone who is not the child’s parent, and past-due child support was deducted from funds intended for your current spouse, the IRS directed taxpayers in August to fill out a Form 8379 (PDF) in order to receive a replacement check. However, since then, the agency says it is sifting through to find such errors and will be issuing replacement checks, although it did not provide a timeline for doing so. It appears the IRS is ironing out this particular wrinkle, so hopefully it won’t be a problem next time.
Yes, joint custody means you may each get a $500 check per child
Most of the time — but not always — the noncustodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent, who likely. Sometimes, however, child support is owed even when parents share custody (when one parent earns significantly more than the other, for example). In many of those cases — but, again, not all — parents alternate claiming the child on their taxes (one in odd years, the other in even years, for example).
In situations like these, it’s possible that the $500 stimulus payments for dependents could be sent to the parent who’s owed back child support while the one who owes receives nothing. If that happens, the parent who did not receive the money can Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. “Double dipping,” in this instance, isn’t a glitch — both parents technically qualify for the $500 payment (for a total of $1,000 per child).and receive it along with any refund due in 2021, according to Janet Holtzblatt, a senior fellow at the
Still unsure what to do? Here’s how to find more help
Like anything having to do with taxes, this stuff can get confusing pretty quickly. If you need help and don’t have an accountant on retainer to assist you, you can try looking for more information on the IRS website or . At the bottom of the IRS’ letter accompanying paper checks is a number you can call for more information: 800-919-9835. The IRS help number is 800-829-1040.
Stay up to date on the, find out how much you might qualify for with and see when you might get a second stimulus check with our .