Charging Kids for Getting Child Support

There’s got to be a better way than this. Missouri has joined the growing list of states that charge children for diverting their parents’ income tax refund to pay delinquent child support. Here’s a story about the practice from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

When a parent is delinquent on child support, the IRS can divert his or her income tax refund, if there is one, to pay delinquent child support. The Service charges states $12.65 every time it diverts a refund. In turn, federal law permits states to charge up to $25 to recipients of the diverted money (that is, the children who need the money) to cover the cost of the diversion. Chldren who are receiving aid are exempt from the charge in Missouri.

The IRS shouldn’t be charging states to divert income tax refunds, and states surely shouldn’t be charging children to receive them. Here’s a little of the article:

Many states have considered charging a fee, but few do it because it can be a “public relations disaster,” said Paula Roberts, senior attorney at the Center for Law and Social Policy in Washington.

“This fee comes out of money that’s overdue and owed to children,” Roberts said. “It’s basically penalizing the children for the failure of the parent to pay child support on time.”

Uh, yeah.