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  • Writer's pictureBrian Barto

Why Didn’t I Get My Tax Refund?! What is a Refund Offset?

What can you do if your tax return shows you’re due a refund from the IRS but you do not receive it or do not get the full amount? This could occur if you owe a federal tax debt from a prior tax year, or a debt to another federal agency, or certain debts under state law. In these cases, the IRS may keep (offset) some or all your tax refund to pay your debt.

What kinds of debts might be offset?

Past-due federal tax;

State income tax;

State unemployment compensation debts;

Child support;

Spousal support; and

Federal nontax debt, like student loans.

The IRS makes offsets for past-due federal taxes. All other offsets are handled by the Treasury Department's Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS), previously known as the Financial Management Service (FMS). For federal tax offsets, you’ll get an IRS notice. For all other offsets, the notice will come from BFS.

If the offset paid a federal tax debt and you don't believe you owe the IRS, either contact the IRS directly or call a local tax professional for assistance.

If the offset paid a non-federal debt and you need more information on the offset, contact the Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS) at 800-304-3107 to find out where the Treasury applied your tax refund. If you believe you don’t owe a debt to another agency or have questions about it, contact the agency that received your tax refund as shown in your notice.

If you filed a joint tax return, you may be entitled to part or all the refund offset if your spouse is solely responsible for the debt. To request your part of the tax refund, you can file IRS Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation.

If your tax refund was offset to pay a joint federal tax debt and you believe only your spouse or former spouse should be held responsible for all or part of the balance due, you should request relief from the liability. You can do this by filing for Innocent Spouse Relief (Form 8857).

At Tax Debt Resolution Services of Winchester VA, our mission is to help you eliminate your IRS issues and the stress the IRS has created in your life and help you get back to doing what you do best! We help our clients in Winchester VA, Strasburg VA, Martinsburg WV, and Charles Town WV to resolve their tax debts! If you need assistance please feel free to contact me at 540-662-4432 or

Brian Barto

24 Weems Lane

Winchester, VA 22601


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