Back Taxes and Child Support

Today TaxMama hears from Krissy in the TaxQuips Forum who needs help. “I am married with two children, low income and my husband owes back child support. Last year I filed separately and ended up owing taxes. I had to set up a payment plan with the IRS to pay it off. I’d like to know if I file jointly this year, will the refund all go to the child support agency? Or will it all go to IRS for my back taxes?”

Dear Krissy,

First of all, if you really are in a low-income bracket, you can get FREE help from real, live tax professionals at a VITA site. So you don’t have to try to do this yourself.

Second of all, you can still fix last year’s situation. You should not have filed separately – because the taxes ARE higher when you do it that way. You should have filed jointly and used the INJURED SPOUSE Form 8379 to get your share of the refund released.

Yes, your husband’s half of the refund would have been taken.

  • He owes the money and will have to pay it sooner or later, anyway. (You may not realize this, but there is no time limit on back child support.  As long as your husband owes it, it can be collected from him forever. So, applying part of the refund to his debt will help reduce it – at least a little.)
  • But YOU would not have owed any taxes.
  • And you would have gotten some money instead of owing money.

You can still go back and fix last year. Believe it or not, you can amend a separate tax return and file jointly. (You cannot do it the other way around.)

You will need some help. So find an IRS Tax Clinic near you. Colleges often have them. They can help you for free. In fact, they can get you back the money you’ve already paid IRS.

For 2011? Go to a VITA site. File jointly. Include a Form 8379, Injured Spouse form so you can get your share of the refund. (And your husband can apply a little more towards his child support.)

And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about back taxes, IRS offsets, and other tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At www.TaxMama.com.

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