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Stimulus FAQ

You are/were under a court order and failed to pay that order in full, so you owe past due child support. Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) ACT in March 2020. The CARES Act authorized stimulus payments to eligible individuals. It also mandates the stimulus checks be intercepted for individuals who owe past due child support. The past due amount may be due to the state or to the custodial parent.

Child support agencies are required to submit names of those who owe past due child support for the IRS Tax Offset Program if certain criteria are met. The criteria:

  • if you owe $150.00 in state arrears
  • and/or $500 in arrears due the custodial parent.

There is one list that is submitted to Treasury for everything: IRS refund offsets, and stimulus with dependency benefits. We cannot submit a name for IRS offset and exclude it for stimulus. It is mandatory for ALL cases that meet the criteria.

Because you owe child support to the custodial parent for a prior period for your children. The CARES Act passed by Congress states that you cannot receive your stimulus if you owe child support.

You owe child support for the period your children were receiving RI Works assistance. The federal distribution rules tell the Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) how stimulus payments received from Treasury will be applied. The rules require that state arrears must be paid first, in full, before the custodial parent is paid what they are owed.

If you owe past due child support, and you file a single tax return, Treasury will send the Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) the federal refund called an offset, or your stimulus money, and the dependency benefit (even for another child).

Our system will apply all that is received to the past due support you owe. If you owe state arrears, state arrears will be paid first, because that is what the federal distribution rules require.

Any money in excess will be refunded to you. Refunds are applied and any refunds occur the same day they are received following our receipt of the money to be processed.

If you file a joint tax return, and your current spouse filed an injured spouse claim last year, Treasury will send two separate notices to your home.

For example, if you are eligible for $2,400 and your spouse filed an injured spouse form with the IRS, your spouse should receive $1,200 stimulus payment.

Your share or $1,200 will be intercepted by Treasury and applied to the past due child support you owe.

A stimulus payment including a dependency benefit is also eligible for offset.

If your spouse has filed as an injured spouse and you, as a couple, would be eligible for $2900 (joint amount at $2400 + 1 child at $500), the total stimulus amount would be divided in half with your spouse receiving $1,450 and the remaining $1,450 intercepted by Treasury and applied to the past due support.

If you file a joint tax return and your current spouse did not file an injured spouse claim last year, he/she must do so this year.

Please visit the IRS website at https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/about-form-8379 to file your claim. We will hold the money for 120 days, pending the claim.

Your state income tax refund will be treated as is usual like all other child support payments.

The refund will be intercepted but is applied to past due child support owed to the custodial parent prior to the state receiving past due support, so long as the custodial parent is not on assistance with any child of the case.

The Rhode Island Office of Child Support Services must follow the rules set forth when Congress passed the CARES Act. The OCSS is also required to follow the federal distribution rules. We do not have a choice.

No. The CARES Act did not grant states any discretion to reduce or eliminate offsets due to hardship.