How to Find Out if My Federal Tax Refund Will Be Offset

Call the IRS directly to find out whether your federal tax refund will be taken as a result of debt or owed child support.
Call the IRS directly to find out whether your federal tax refund will be taken as a result of debt or owed child support.

When tax season rolls around, many taxpayers are surprised to find out that they will not receive the refund that they have coming to them. If you owe money on a student loan, child support, or for past state or federal taxes, your refund may be "offset," or withheld by the IRS. The entire refund or just part of it may be held.

Here is information about when a refund can be offset and how to find out whether this may happen to you.

When a Refund Can Be Withheld

The Department of Treasury's Bureau of the Fiscal Service is the agency that issues IRS tax refunds. Refunds can be withheld however in order to pay:

  • Past-due child and parent support.
  • Federal agency non-tax debts.
  • State income tax obligations.
  • Certain unemployment compensation debts owed to a state.

If you owe money to a federal government agency, you can call it directly to find out if your refund will be used to pay your debt.

You will receive a notice, however, to let you know that your refund will be offset. The notice will show your original refund amount, your offset amount, the agency that the offset was paid to, and its address and telephone number. If you receive this notice and have questions, contact that agency directly.

To Find Out Whether Your Refund Will Be Offset

Call the Bureau of the Fiscal Service directly at this toll-free number, (800) 304-3107.

  • Listen to the prerecorded message and do as instructed. Do not call on someone else's behalf, as this is a criminal offense.
  • You will need to enter your social security number when prompted. The BFS will search its database to see if there is an offset against your debt. Write down any information provided, including the creditor agency so you can call with any additional questions.
  • If you are married and file jointly, and your spouse's refund will be offset, you may be entitled to your part of the refund. To find out, file an Injured Spouse Allocation form, or form 8379. For more information about this process, call (800) 304-3107.

Comments 12 comments

kmackey32 profile image

kmackey32 8 months ago from Pittsburgh PA Author

Ahkron yes that means they will take your return to cover the debt

ahkorin 8 months ago

I owe student loans and when I call the number, it says it found a debt and could be offset, this means they will take it right?

jess 18 months ago

It has been almost two months since I filed still no refund it still says being processed I have not gotten any letters emails or anything saying they took them when I call this number it says I have one payment that could make it offset but it don't equal what my TAxes equal

Queen 20 months ago

You can speak to an actual person by choosing the option of asking another question about your federal return. Just don't choose the option to know if your federal refund has been or will be offset, it will only take you to automated system for answer . I choose other option and speak to someone

kmackey32 profile image

kmackey32 20 months ago from Pittsburgh PA Author

Thats awesome cjd....Just to let everyone know, this is legit. I have been calling this number for years to make sure my taxes are not taken and nothing has ever happened to me by giving my social security number. It is the Treasury Departments actual phone number....

Cjd 20 months ago

I called last year and they said it would be taken and it wasn't...

Danie 21 months ago

I called it said no offset, but the where's my refund website said it was offset. I'm so confused as to what happened and where to find correct information on this topic.

christy 21 months ago

how accurate is this system? it said i do not have any debts at this time. can i count on that?

Paul Davidson 23 months ago

Nice post. It is such an informative article. BTW, if anyone needs to fill out a form tax forms, I found a blank forms in this site PDFfiller. This site also has some tutorials on how to fill it out and a tons of fillable tax forms that you might find useful. Here is a link to the blank form that I was able to fill out

kmackey32 profile image

kmackey32 2 years ago from Pittsburgh PA Author

It tells you if your taxes will be offset or default. That means your taxes will be taken.

kmackey32 profile image

kmackey32 2 years ago from Pittsburgh PA Author

Arteclea, the number is to find out if your tax return will be taken if you owe child support or a federal loan. It is an automated service. It doesn't matter if you have filed yet and you will not beable to tell them because it is an automated service, no one will answer for you to beable to tell them anything.

Arteclea 2 years ago

If you call the number listed in your article, do you then alert them that you are filing/have file just by calling? After all you do give your ss# and they tend to track you by that. Thoughts?

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