United States Code
USC most recently checked for updates: Jun 10, 2023
Reduction of tax refund by amount of debt
Any Federal agency that is owed by a person a past-due, legally enforceable debt (including debt administered by a third party acting as an agent for the Federal Government) shall, and any agency subject to section 9 of the Act of May 18, 1933 (16 U.S.C. 831h), owed such a debt may, in accordance with regulations issued pursuant to subsections (b) and (d), notify the Secretary of the Treasury at least once each year of the amount of such debt.
No Federal agency may take action pursuant to subsection (a) with respect to any debt until such agency—
notifies the person incurring such debt that such agency proposes to take action pursuant to such paragraph with respect to such debt;
gives such person at least 60 days to present evidence that all or part of such debt is not past-due or not legally enforceable;
considers any evidence presented by such person and determines that an amount of such debt is past due and legally enforceable;
satisfies such other conditions as the Secretary may prescribe to ensure that the determination made under paragraph (3) with respect to such debt is valid and that the agency has made reasonable efforts (determined on a government-wide basis) to obtain payment of such debt; and
certifies that reasonable efforts have been made by the agency (pursuant to regulations) to obtain payment of such debt.
Upon receiving notice from any Federal agency that a named person owes to such agency a past-due legally enforceable debt, the Secretary of the Treasury shall determine whether any amounts, as refunds of Federal taxes paid, are payable to such person. If the Secretary of the Treasury finds that any such amount is payable, he shall reduce such refunds by an amount equal to the amount of such debt, pay the amount of such reduction to such agency, and notify such agency of the individual’s home address.
The Secretary of the Treasury shall issue regulations prescribing the time or times at which agencies must submit notices of past-due legally enforceable debts, the manner in which such notices must be submitted, and the necessary information that must be contained in or accompany the notices. The regulations shall specify the minimum amount of debt to which the reduction procedure established by subsection (c) may be applied and the fee that an agency must pay to reimburse the Secretary of the Treasury for the full cost of applying such procedure. Any fee paid to the Secretary pursuant to the preceding sentence may be used to reimburse appropriations which bore all or part of the cost of applying such procedure.
Any Federal agency receiving notice from the Secretary of the Treasury that an erroneous payment has been made to such agency under subsection (c) shall pay promptly to the Secretary, in accordance with such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, an amount equal to the amount of such erroneous payment (without regard to whether any other amounts payable to such agency under such subsection have been paid to such agency).
Subsection (a) shall apply with respect to an OASDI overpayment made to any individual only if such individual is not currently entitled to monthly insurance benefits under title II of the Social Security Act.
The requirements of subsection (b) shall not be treated as met in the case of the recovery of an OASDI overpayment from any individual under this section unless the notification under subsection (b)(1) describes the conditions under which the Commissioner of Social Security is required to waive recovery of an overpayment, as provided under section 204(b) of the Social Security Act.
In any case in which an individual files for a waiver under section 204(b) of the Social Security Act within the 60-day period referred to in subsection (b)(2), the Commissioner of Social Security shall not certify to the Secretary of the Treasury that the debt is valid under subsection (b)(4) before rendering a decision on the waiver request under such section 204(b). In lieu of payment, pursuant to subsection (c), to the Commissioner of Social Security of the amount of any reduction under this subsection based on an OASDI overpayment, the Secretary of the Treasury shall deposit such amount in the Federal Old-Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund or the Federal Disability Insurance Trust Fund, whichever is certified to the Secretary of the Treasury as appropriate by the Commissioner of Social Security.
In the case of refunds of business associations, this section shall apply only to refunds payable on or after
January 1, 1995. In the case of refunds of individuals who owe debts to Federal agencies that have not participated in the Federal tax refund offset program prior to the date of enactment of this subsection, this section shall apply only to refunds payable on or after January 1, 1994.
The disbursing official of the Department of the Treasury—
1So in original. Subsec. (h) contains two pars. designated (1) and (2).
1 shall notify a taxpayer in writing of—
the occurrence of an offset to satisfy a past-due legally enforceable nontax debt;
the identity of the creditor agency requesting the offset; and
a contact point within the creditor agency that will handle concerns regarding the offset;
1 shall notify the Internal Revenue Service on a weekly basis of—
the occurrence of an offset to satisfy a past-due legally enforceable non-tax 2
2So in original. Probably should not be hyphenated.
the amount of such offset; and
any other information required by regulations; and
shall match payment records with requests for offset by using a name control, taxpayer identifying number (as that term is used in section 6109 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986), and any other necessary identifiers.
1 The term “disbursing official” of the Department of the Treasury means the Secretary or his designee.
An agency subject to section 9 of the Act of May 18, 1933 (16 U.S.C. 831h), may implement this section at its discretion.
(Added Pub. L. 98–369, div. B, title VI, § 2653(a)(1),
July 18, 1984, 98 Stat. 1153; amended Pub. L. 101–508, title V, § 5129(b), Nov. 5, 1990, 104 Stat. 1388–287; Pub. L. 102–589, § 3, Nov. 10, 1992, 106 Stat. 5133; Pub. L. 103–296, title I, § 108(j)(2), Aug. 15, 1994, 108 Stat. 1488; Pub. L. 104–134, title III, § 31001(u)(1), (v)(1), (w), Apr. 26, 1996, 110 Stat. 1321–375.)
cite as: 31 USC 3720A