Can the IRS Take My Federal Income Tax Refund Check?

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The IRS may take part or all of your federal income tax refund check to meet certain unpaid financial obligations, including delinquent state and federal taxes from previous years, child support, money owed to other federal agencies, and student loans in default.


The IRS notifies taxpayers by mail if part or all of a refund is taken to pay an obligation. This letter details the amount taken, the agency to which the money was sent, and contact information for that agency.

Joint Returns

Tax refunds may be taken from joint returns even if only one of the filers is indebted to state or federal agencies. However, the IRS allows the affected spouse to apply to receive their share of the refund.


Injured Spouse Allocation

Spouses who are not indebted who have all or part of their share of the return taken due to debts of their spouse on a joint return may file Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, to have their share of the refund sent to them. Form 8379 is available from the IRS website at