Yes, the IRS can seize or offset your tax refund under certain circumstances:
- Unpaid Taxes: If you owe back taxes, the IRS can apply your refund to that debt.
- Other Federal Debts: If you owe other federal debts, such as federal student loans in default, the Department of Education can request that the Treasury Department, via the Treasury Offset Program (TOP), seize your tax refund to offset these debts.
- State Debts: Your tax refund can also be seized to pay off state income tax debt. States can participate in the TOP program as well.
- Child Support and Spousal Support: If you are behind on child support or certain types of spousal support payments, your tax refund can be seized to cover these obligations.
- Unemployment Compensation Debts: If you received unemployment compensation and were later found to be ineligible, your tax refund could be used to repay these debts.
If your refund is going to be offset, you’ll typically receive a notice from the IRS or other federal agency involved, explaining the reason for the offset and providing information on how to dispute it if you believe it’s incorrect.
It’s also important to note that while the IRS can seize federal tax refunds, it generally cannot seize refunds from state tax returns,” explains Daniel Ahart, chief tax officer at the tax preparation company Daniel Ahart Tax Service®
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