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If I claim a dependent who owes back child support, will my federal income tax be held to pay back their child support debt?

Hesperia, CA |

I claim my father-in-law as a dependent on my taxes. He is unemployed, has no income of any sorts and I financially support him 100%. Recently, his ex-wife has filed for back child-support in Oklahoma. He was mailed paperwork stating that he owes over $40,000 to the state of Oklahoma however he does not have any income to pay it. If I claim him as a dependant can Oklahoma take my tax return to pay his debt?

Attorney Answers 2


Good question. Since he does not receive the refund, I think you would be safe. But I would check with the IRS to be on the safe side. The refund is not in his name and is not for his income producing activity.

My name is Stephen R. Cohen and have practiced since 1974. I practice in Los Angeles and Orange County, CA. These answers do not create an attorney client relationship. My answers may offend I believe in telling the truth, I use common sense as well as the law. Other state's laws may differ.. There are a lot of really good attorneys on this site, I will do limited appearances which are preparation of court documents it is , less expensive. However generally I believe an attorney is better than none.

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If your father-in-law meets the qualifications to be your dependent, then you should claim him. I know of no law that would make you liable for your father-in-law's debts if you claimed him as a dependent nor one that would authorize Oklahoma to take your refund for doing so.

I do not believe that the IRS record of your tax account for each tax year would even show collection attempts by Oklahoma against your father-in-law because those attempts will be on refunds due him under his social security number and your account is maintained under your social security number.

You may want to review this your tax preparer as well as the requirements for claiming him as your dependent. Also, you may want to check with the IRS as recommend by Attorney Cohen. They shouldn't take your refund, but I am sure all of us have seen things happen that we believe should have happened.

I am licensed to practice law only in the state of California. The answer provided above is for general information only, is not intended and should not be taken as specific legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship with the party making the inquiry. The best way to contact me is by email at

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