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



About the Author

David Chandler has been a freelance writer since 2006 whose work has appeared in various print and online publications. A former reconnaissance Marine, he is an active hiker, diver, kayaker, sailor and angler. He has traveled extensively and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of South Florida where he was educated in international studies and microbiology.

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