31 CFR § 285.2 - Offset of tax refund payments to collect past-due, legally enforceable nontax debt.
(a) Definitions. For purposes of this section:
Debt or claim refers to an amount of money, funds, or property which has been determined by an agency official to be due the United States from any person, organization, or entity, except another Federal agency. For the purposes of this section, the terms “claim” and “debt” are synonymous and interchangeable and includes debt administered by a third party acting as an agent for the Federal Government.
Fiscal Service means the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, a bureau of the Department of the Treasury.
IRS means the Internal Revenue Service, a bureau of the Department of the Treasury.
Tax refund payment means any overpayment of Federal taxes to be refunded to the person making the overpayment after the IRS makes the appropriate credits as provided in 26 U.S.C. 6402(a) and 26 CFR 6402-3(a)(6)(i) for any liabilities for any tax on the part of the person who made the overpayment.
(b) General rule.
(1) A Federal agency (as defined in 26 U.S.C. 6402(g)) that is owed by a person a past-due, legally enforceable nontax debt shall notify Fiscal Service of the amount of such debt for collection by tax refund offset. However, any agency subject to section 9 of the Act of May 18, 1933 (16 U.S.C. 831h) owed such a debt may, but is not required to, notify Fiscal Service of the amount of such debt for collection by tax refund offset.
(2) Fiscal Service will compare tax refund payment records, as certified by the IRS, with records of debts submitted to Fiscal Service. A match will occur when the taxpayer identifying number (as that term is used in 26 U.S.C. 6109) and name (or derivation of the name, known as a “name control”) of a payment certification record are the same as the taxpayer identifying number and name control of a debtor record. When a match occurs and all other requirements for tax refund offset have been met, Fiscal Service will reduce the amount of any tax refund payment payable to a debtor by the amount of any past-due, legally enforceable debt owed by the debtor. Any amounts not offset will be paid to the payee(s) listed in the payment certification record.
(i) This section applies to Federal Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance (OASDI) overpayments provided the requirements of 31 U.S.C. 3720A(f)(1) and (2) are met with respect to such overpayments.
(5) A creditor agency is not precluded from using debt collection procedures, such as wage garnishment, to collect debts that have been submitted to Fiscal Service for purposes of offset under this part. Such debt collection procedures may be used separately or in conjunction with offset collection procedures.
(c) Regulations. Prior to submitting debts to Fiscal Service for collection by tax refund offset, Federal agencies shall promulgate temporary or final regulations under 31 U.S.C. 3716 and 31 U.S.C. 3720A, governing the agencies' authority to collect debts by administrative offset, in general, and offset of tax refund payments, in particular.
(d) Agency certification and referral of debt -
(1) Past-due, legally enforceable debt eligible for tax refund offset. For purposes of this section, when a Federal agency refers a past-due, legally enforceable debt to Fiscal Service for tax refund offset, the agency will certify to Fiscal Service that:
(A) Submitted the debt to Fiscal Service for collection by administrative offset and complied with the provisions of 31 U.S.C. 3716(a) and related regulations, to the extent that collection of the debt by administrative offset is not prohibited by statute;
(B) Notified, or has made a reasonable attempt to notify, the debtor that the debt is past-due, and unless repaid within 60 days after the date of the notice, will be referred to Fiscal Service for tax refund offset;
(C) Given the debtor at least 60 days to present evidence that all or part of the debt is not past-due or legally enforceable, considered any evidence presented by the debtor, and determined that the debt is past-due and legally enforceable; and
(iii) The debt is at least $25; and
(iv) In the case of an OASDI overpayment -
(2) Pre-offset notice and consideration of evidence for past-due, legally enforceable debt.
(i) For purposes of paragraph (d)(1)(iii)(B) of this section, a creditor agency has made a reasonable attempt to notify the debtor if the agency uses the current address information contained in the agency's records related to the debt. Agencies may, but are not required to, obtain address information from the IRS pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 6103(m)(2), (4), or (5).
(ii) For purposes of paragraph (d)(1)(iii)(C) of this section, if the evidence presented by the debtor is considered by an agent of the creditor agency, or other entities or persons acting on the agency's behalf, the debtor must be accorded at least 30 days from the date the agent or other entity or person determines that all or part of the debt is past-due and legally enforceable to request review by an officer or employee of the agency of any unresolved dispute. The agency must then notify the debtor of its decision.
(3) Referral of past-due, legally enforceable debt. A Federal agency will submit past-due, legally enforceable debt information for tax refund offset to Fiscal Service in the time and manner prescribed by Fiscal Service. For each debt, the creditor agency will include the following information:
(ii) The amount of such past-due and legally enforceable debt;
(iii) The date on which the debt became past-due;
(v) In the case of an OASDI overpayment, a certification by the Commissioner of Social Security designating whether the amount payable to the agency is to be deposited in either the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund or the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund, but not both.
(4) Correcting and updating referral. If, after referring a past-due, legally enforceable debt to Fiscal Service as provided in paragraph (d)(3) of this section, a creditor agency determines that an error has been made with respect to the information transmitted to Fiscal Service, or if an agency receives a payment or credits a payment to the account of a debtor referred to Fiscal Service for offset, or if the debt amount is otherwise incorrect, the agency shall promptly notify Fiscal Service and make the appropriate correction of the agency's records. Creditor agencies will provide certification as required under paragraph (d)(1) of this section for any increases to amounts owed.
(5) Fiscal Service may reject a certification which does not comply with the requirements of paragraph (d)(1) of this section. Upon notification of the rejection and the reason for the rejection, a creditor agency may resubmit the debt with a corrected certification.
(i) Creditor agencies may submit debts to Fiscal Service for collection by tax refund offset irrespective of the amount of time the debt has been outstanding. Accordingly, all nontax debts, including debts that were delinquent for ten years or longer prior to December 28, 2009 may be collected by tax refund offset.
(ii) For debts outstanding more than ten years on or before December 28, 2009, creditor agencies must certify to Fiscal Service that the notice of intent to offset described in paragraph (d)(1)(ii)(B) of this section was sent to the debtor after the debt became ten years delinquent. This requirement will apply even in a case where notice was also sent prior to the debt becoming ten years delinquent, but does not apply to any debt that could be collected by offset without regard to any time limitation prior to December 28, 2009.
(B) The creditor agency to which this amount has been paid or credited; and
(ii) The notice in paragraph (e)(1)(i) of this section will also advise any non-debtor spouse who may have filed a joint tax return with the debtor of the steps which a non-debtor spouse may take in order to secure his or her proper share of the tax refund. See paragraph (f) of this section.
(2) Fiscal Service will advise each creditor agency of the names, mailing addresses, and identifying numbers of the debtors from whom amounts of past-due, legally enforceable debt were collected and of the amounts collected from each debtor for that agency. Fiscal Service will not advise the creditor agency of the source of payment from which such amounts were collected. If a payment from which an amount of past-due, legally enforceable debt is to be withheld is payable to two individual payees, Fiscal Service will notify the creditor agency and furnish the name and address of each payee to whom the payment was payable.
(3) At least weekly, Fiscal Service will notify the IRS of the names and taxpayer identifying numbers of the debtors from whom amounts of past-due, legally enforceable debt were collected and the amounts collected from each debtor.
(f) Offset made with regard to a tax refund payment based upon joint return. If the person filing a joint return with a debtor owing the past-due, legally enforceable debt takes appropriate action to secure his or her proper share of a tax refund from which an offset was made, the IRS will pay the person his or her share of the refund and request that Fiscal Service deduct that amount from amounts payable to the creditor agency. Fiscal Service and the creditor agency will adjust their debtor records accordingly.
(g) Disposition of amounts collected. Fiscal Service will transmit amounts collected for past-due, legally enforceable debts, less fees charged under paragraph (h) of this section, to the creditor agency's account. If an erroneous payment is made to any agency, Fiscal Service will notify the creditor agency that an erroneous payment has been made. The agency shall pay promptly to Fiscal Service an amount equal to the amount of the erroneous payment (without regard to whether any other amounts payable to such agency have been paid).
(h) Fees. The creditor agency will reimburse Fiscal Service and the IRS for the full cost of administering the tax refund offset program. Fiscal Service will deduct the fees from amounts collected prior to disposition and transmit a portion of the fees deducted to reimburse the IRS for its share of the cost of administering the tax refund offset program. To the extent allowed by law, creditor agencies may add the offset fees to the debt.
(i) Review of tax refund offsets. Any reduction of a taxpayer's refund made pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 6402(d) shall not be subject to review by any court of the United States or by the Secretary of the Treasury, Fiscal Service or IRS in an administrative proceeding. No action brought against the United States to recover the amount of this reduction shall be considered to be a suit for refund of tax. Any legal, equitable, or administrative action by any person seeking to recover the amount of the reduction of the overpayment must be taken against the Federal creditor agency to which the amount of the reduction was paid. Any action which is otherwise available with respect to recoveries of overpayments of benefits under 42 U.S.C. 404 must be taken against the Commissioner of Social Security.
(j) Access to and use of confidential tax information. Access to and use of confidential tax information in connection with the tax refund offset program are restricted by 26 U.S.C. 6103. Generally, agencies will not receive confidential tax information from Fiscal Service. To the extent such information is received, agencies are subject to the safeguard, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements of 26 U.S.C. 6103(p)(4) and the regulations thereunder. The agency shall inform its officers and employees who access or use confidential tax information of the restrictions and penalties under the Internal Revenue Code for misuse of confidential tax information.
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