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I currently owe back child support to my ex-husband, and typically pay this through my tax refund due to my difficult financial straits via the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program.

If I instruct the IRS to keep all of my refund and apply it to next year's taxes, through line 77 on my 1040 (or equivalent through tax preparation software), will the IRS follow that instruction if I owe back child support?

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    Regardless of your income, your ex's income, and your tax burden the court had decided you need to pay a certain amount of child support. The best advice is for you to do so. – Pete B. Jan 26 '17 at 18:38
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    You need a lawyer to help you with your child support situation, and it also sounds like you need an accountant to help you with your business and your taxes. Unless that $44k you mentioned is your taxable income after all your deductions, $7k is way too high of a tax burden for someone with $44k total household income. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Jan 26 '17 at 18:50
  • Department of HHS has a page on the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program and a Child Support Handbook. Unfortunately, I don't see this particular question answered in either place. – Ben Miller - Reinstate Monica Jan 26 '17 at 19:01
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    Actually Pete B the court hasn't decided anything this was an agreement made at mediation that I was forced into by the man who raped me and forced me to sign a divorce decree with no lawyer. if I wanted to see my kids I had to sign it. I have a law degree, and I am not looking for legal advice. I have had more than enough bad legal advice already. I'm looking for an IRS procedural answer. – Jane Jan 26 '17 at 19:09
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    Yeah, I'm trying to find out if the IRS will hold on to it for next year's tax burden, whatever that could be. I'm not expecting to receive it back myself. And yes, everything you said is accurate CQM. I used to have custody. He took it from me one year after the divorce through a clause in the decree that constitutes fraudulent inducement. Basically when someone is trying to leave a bad spouse and the bad spouse has the income they have to sign whatever decree they are told to if they want money to survive during the divorce and after. Lots of men do this and get away with it. – Jane Jan 26 '17 at 19:30
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It looks like this would not work, as documented in the IRS' Offset instructions (bold mine):

Internal Revenue Code IRC (§) 6402(a), (c), (d), (e) and (f) require a taxpayer's overpayment to be applied to any outstanding Federal tax debt, child support, Treasury Offset Program (TOP) debt, State income tax obligation or Unemployment Compensation prior to crediting the overpayment to a future tax or issuing a refund.

However, there is a method for applying for an exemption. From IRS Publication 4012, the volunteer resource guide:

If a taxpayer would face a hardship from a tax refund offset and has only outstanding Federal tax debts, he or she can request an Offset Bypass Refund (OBR) from the IRS. Refer the taxpayer to the Taxpayer Advocate Service to see if they meet TAS case acceptance criteria. The OBR typically should be requested before the return is filed because the OBR must be approved before the refund is offset.

The OBR is documented here.

  • Note the exemption seems to only apply to Federal tax debts - so it may not apply in your case. – Joe Jan 26 '17 at 23:56

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