The Department of Treasury's Financial Management Service (FMS), which issues IRS tax refunds, has been authorized by Congress to conduct the Treasury Offset Program. Through this program, your refund or overpayment may be reduced by FMS and offset to pay any past–due child support, Federal agency non–tax debts, state income tax obligations or certain unemployment compensation debts owed a state (namely debts for compensation that was paid due to fraud or for contributions due to a state fund that were not paid due to fraud). Your refund will not be claimed to pay your judgments. If your student loans are delinquent and they have been reported to FMS your refund my be offset to pay that.
Federal income tax refunds can be taken to collect past-due child support. The amount owed to the custodial parent must be $500 or more, while the amount owed to the State is $150 or more. The State balance accrued during periods when public assistance benefits were paid to the family.
You can contact the agency with which you have a debt, to determine if your debt was submitted for a tax refund offset. You may call FMS at 1-800-304–3107 for an agency address and phone number. If your debt was submitted for offset, FMS will take as much of your refund as is needed to pay off the debt and send it to the agency you owe. Any portion of your refund remaining after offset will be issued in a check to you or direct deposited for you.
Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the States of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to those three States. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. Consult an attorney in your locale before you act on any of this advice. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author only and the fact that he has worked as an Assistant District Attorney; State Supreme Court Clerk; Special Assistant United States Attorney (Hawaii); Assistant Cornell University Counsel or Judge Advocate, United States Marine Corps should not be relied upon to assume that these statements reflect the policy of these organizations.