The Department of Treasury employs a program known as the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) which allows the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to intercept tax refunds on behalf of federal and state agencies to which taxpayers owe a debt. Determining if your refund is in danger of being garnished by one of these organizations is as easy as a phone call.
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Normally, you will receive a notice from the Financial Management Service (FMS) advising you of your refund garnishment. The notice will not only include your original refund amount, but it will also include the dollar amount by which your refund is set to be reduced and the name of the organization to which the IRS will be forwarding the funds.
Phone FMS at 800-304-3107 to determine which organization will receive your garnished refund. Also, you can call the IRS at 800-829-1040. Provide your taxpayer identification number and inquire whether or not a garnishment is pending on your tax refund.
Once your refund is garnished, it may take months before it arrives at the state or federal organization to which you owe the debt. This is because some payments go to a liaison which is then responsible for dispersing the payments to the individual agencies. Only garnishments taken to pay the IRS are posted immediately.