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VERIFY: Does one person's child support payments affect their spouse's stimulus check?

Dozens of people have asked whether their spouse's past-due payments will impact their tax refund.
Credit: CBS19

TYLER, Texas — UPDATE (4/22): The IRS said it will honor injured spouse status for anyone who filed the form with their 2019 taxes (or 2018 if they have not filed for 2019 yet). In a post of Frequently Asked Questions, the IRS wrote: "If you are married filing jointly and you filed an injured spouse claim with your 2019 tax return (or 2018 tax return if you haven’t filed your 2019 tax return), half of the total Payment will be sent to each spouse and your spouse’s Payment will be offset only for past-due child support. There is no need to file another injured spouse claim for the Payment."

Most taxpayers who get approved for injured spouse relief will still have to wait to see their money returned to them. The IRS reports that it usually takes 8-14 weeks to review and approve an injured spouse request. A small percentage of taxpayers submitted their forms early enough to receive approval before the novel coronavirus pandemic forced the IRS to limit its operations.

UPDATE (4/13): Many families have discovered that the entire stimulus check has been intercepted by the IRS, even those that have in the past been approved for injured spouse status. CBS19 has reached out to the IRS for a comment, but has not heard back at this time.

ORIGINAL (4/3): Many families are struggling financially because of the coronavirus. The stimulus plan included in the CARES Act has given them a ray of hope, but a large number say they are worried that family dynamics might stop them from receiving a check.

CBS19 received dozens of questions from viewers this week on how past-due payments would affect parents who have remarried. 

One CBS19 viewer summed it up when she wrote: “I am married to my husband, who owes back support to his ex-wife. My husband and I have two kids, and make less than $150,000, so we would be receiving $3,400. Is our whole family check going to the back support or a max of $1,200 for my husband’s piece?”

The Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 gave the U.S. Treasury Department the power to intercept tax refunds from someone who is behind on their child support payments. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote a blog post on March 26 that child support is the only debt for which the government can withhold someone’s stimulus check. 

Annette Hernandez, a spokesperson for the Texas Attorney General’s Office Child Support Division said the state will send updated information to Washington make sure custodial parents get what they are owed.

If you have a question or concern you would like us to verify, you can send an email to dlippman@cbs19.tv or send me a message on Facebook or Twitter.

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