Taxpayers are surprised to find that they do not receive a refund that was claimed on their federal income tax return. Many times this is the result of the IRS offsetting or reducing the refund because of other debts. The following gives details about when this can happen and some of the basic issues in this area.
If you owe federal or state income taxes your refund will be offset to pay those taxes.
If you had other debt such as child support or student loan or other debts that was submitted to the IRS for offset, the IRS will take as much of your refund as is needed to pay off the debt, and send it to the agency authorized to collect the debt.
Any portion of your refund remaining after an offset will be refunded to you.
You will receive a notice if an offset occurs. The notice will reflect the original refund amount, your offset amount, the agency receiving the payment, and the address and telephone number of the agency.
You should contact the agency shown on the notice if you believe you do not owe the debt or you are disputing the amount taken from your refund.
If you filed a joint return and you’re not responsible for the debt, but you are entitled to a portion of the refund, you may request your portion of the refund by filing IRS Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation. For more on this topic please read Injured Spouse Claim.
Attach Form 8379 to your original Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040EZ or file it by itself after you are notified of an offset.
If you file a Form 8379 with your return, write “INJURED SPOUSE” at the top left corner of the Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ. IRS will process your allocation request before an offset occurs.
If you are filing Form 8379 by itself, it must show both spouses’ social security numbers in the same order as they appeared on your income tax return. You, the “injured” spouse, must sign the form. Do not attach the previously filed Form 1040 to the Form 8379.
Send Form 8379 to the Service Center where you filed your original return.
Follow the instructions on Form 8379 carefully and be sure to attach the required forms to avoid delays.
The IRS will compute the injured spouse’s share of the joint return for you. Contact the IRS only if your original refund amount shown on the FMS offset notice differs from the refund amount shown on your tax return. Follow the instructions on Form 8379 carefully and be sure to attach the required forms to avoid delays.
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