How Long Does It Take To Get Back Child Support From Taxes (And Why)?

Exact Answer: At least 6 months

Child support payments are monetary disbursements made by one parent to another. During a divorce hearing, a judge can stipulate that a certain fixed amount of money has to be provided to support the child or children from the marriage.



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In the event of non-payment of these monthly installments of child support, an outstanding debt emerges. Moreover, non-payment is also considered a legal violation of the court’s mandate. In such situations, the Tax Department –working with the state child support agencies- usually intercepts the non-custodial parent’s tax refunds to deduct the amount and credit it to the custodial parent’s account.

How Long Does It Take To Get Back Child Support From

How Long Does It Take To Get Back Child Support From Taxes

Getting back child support from the income tax department can be quite a strenuous and lengthy process. The steps involved in the process are quite complex. The average time frame for receiving the due child support from the tax refund may be affected by several interrelated and equally significant factors.

The norms of the Federal Treasury Offset Program dictate that the various child support agencies in the state must share information about the outstanding or back payments with the central Treasury Department. This gives the IRS the ability to overtake tax refunds as funds to offset overdue payments.

Although child support income is not taxable, when there are unpaid and outstanding dues, the amount is generally deducted from the tax refund of an individual. The funds can be held by the IRS for a period of 6 months in most cases. After the completion of this minimum period, an individual may expect the offset refund to be credited.

However, in certain cases, this process may take longer than 6 months. The IRS may intercept all or a part of the tax refund in certain cases when the dues have piled up. The amount is directly sent by the IRS to the corresponding support agency associated with the case. The process of countering the claim and litigation may take longer than 6 months.

Thus, the overall expected window of receiving back child support from the tax department can last somewhere between 6-8 months. One must remain patient when waiting for the funds to be credited.  

In Summary:

Particularities of the CaseTime Taken
No Contestation of the DebtWithin 6 months
Contestation of the DebtMore than 6 months

Why Does IT Take So Long To Get Back Child Support From Taxes

The time is taken to get the overdue child support refund may be quite prolonged. This is because the nitty-gritty of the entire process is multilayered and quite complicated. Individuals must be prepared to wait for some time before they actually see the amount reflected in their bank accounts.

A Pre-Offset notice is sent to the non-custodial parent with outstanding child support debts. This document includes all the details about the debt amount, the Federal Tax Refund Offset, possible actions against the offense, etc. Information about contesting the amount is also provided.

Countering debt claims may also adversely affect the time frame. If a parent decides to contest the claim through litigation, the time is taken to get back child support from the tax agency will be invariably longer. Filing cases and the court hearings that follow, extend the time duration generally stipulated for receiving back child support.

Similarly, an individual can file a joint return petition to initiate the refund process. The assessment and processing of these claims take up to 6 months. Sometimes, delays in crediting the amount happen because of the bureaucratic structure of the system. Claims may get lost in the overwhelming number of cases handled by both the tax department as well as the state child support agencies.

Moreover, the failure to submit the correct documents that are needed to process claims may also lead to unnecessary delays and lags. Following correct procedural protocols is important when dealing with the IRS and the various state child support agencies.


Getting back child support from the Federal tax department is an arduous task. The multiple requests and procedural forms that need to be submitted and approved are indeed time-consuming and often prolong the process. The overwhelmed state child support agencies may also take time to go over cases.

Nevertheless, within the general operative structure of the IRS, it is possible to receive back child support from taxes within 6 months. If all sub-steps are diligently followed and the debt claims are not contested, then a 6-month period will suffice to receive the outstanding payment. However, in the event of contestation, the time frame will be invariably extended.


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