If a parent is behind on child support payments in Connecticut, state and federal tax refund amounts may be intercepted. This method is one of several enforcement mechanisms available to the Office of Child Support Enforcement. Intercepting tax refunds applies if the noncustodial parent is in arrears past a threshold amount, which can vary based on whether the child receives public assistance. The state must give advance written notification to the parent, who may request a hearing to contest the action before any refund amount is taken.
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Child Support Enforcement
Once a child support order is obtained by the custodial parent, the state has several methods of enforcement when support becomes past due. Depending on the type of enforcement action, either the Bureau of Child Support Enforcement (BCSE) or the Support Enforcement Division (SED) of the judicial branch will be responsible for implementing enforcement. The state may withhold income, report the nonpaying parent to a credit bureau, offset lottery winnings, place a lien on property or intercept an income tax refund. In some cases, a parent in arrears may be arrested for willingly refusing to pay child support.
The state of Connecticut may report a parent who owes child support to the Internal Revenue Service and the State Department of Revenue Services. If the child receives public assistance, the state will report the name of the parent if he owes more than $150. If the child does not receive public assistance, the name will be reported if the parent owes more than $500 in child support. Once reported, the state will match the name to the tax return of the parent and intercept income tax refunds to pay the amount of child support owed.
Before a parent's name is submitted to the state and federal tax departments for a refund offset, the noncustodial parent is entitled to a written notice. The notice will include the amount the parent owes and explain the noncustodial parent's right to a hearing. The noncustodial parent may request a modification of the existing court order if he is no longer able to keep up with his monthly child support obligation.
The noncustodial parent has the right to a hearing concerning the income tax offset, during which he may contest the action. At the hearing, the parent may present reasons supporting the position that he does not owe child support, such as evidence of prior payment. Also, if the parent is presently the legal guardian of the child and lives with the child or is not the child's legal guardian, but the child lived with that parent for the six months immediately prior to the withholding or within the tax year in question, the state may determine that he should not have his tax return intercepted.