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Can other government debt be collected from my refund?

The Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS), who issues IRS refunds, may withhold outstanding government debt that is owed to other government agencies from a taxpayer's refund as part of the Treasury Offset Program (TOP). We are aware the IRS website and Treasury Offset Program automated phone system may not accurately reflect the fact there was a government debt collected from your federal tax refund.  

Neither the IRS or Santa Barbara Tax Products Group are provided with the specific information about your debt. 


Types of government debt that may be collected

The BFS may deduct a portion of your refund to settle existing federal, state, or local government debt.  This may include items such as past due IRS taxes; federal agency debt such as military debt or student loans, state or municipal taxes; past due child or spousal support; or local fines and judgements such as parking tickets. 


Where to get more info


If your refund has been reduced:

  • The BFS will send you a notice in the mail informing you of any government offset that was made
  • When you check the status of your refund from the IRS website you will see a link to a Tax Topic related to collections or refund offsets (see example below)



To find out the details of the government debt, please call the Treasury Offset Program at 800-304-3107.

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