Offsets, what are they and have they resumed? August 2020 Tax News

We frequently get asked questions about our offset programs, so we want to explain how we offset tax refunds and the COVID 19 pandemic relief we provided.
We have 2 offset programs:

  • Interagency Intercept Collections (IIC)
  • Treasury Offset Program (TOP)

These programs collect money from tax refunds or other government payments to satisfy taxpayer debts to us and other government agencies.
Most of the offset requests had been suspended under government order through July 15, 2020, including offsets of:

  • California income tax refunds to state and local agencies
  • Lottery prizes and unclaimed property.
  • IRS refunds (including federal Economic Impact Payment checks)

As of July 16, 2020 these offset programs have resumed. Individuals and business entities that expected a refund and have other government debts may be impacted.
We administer the IIC program on behalf of the State Controller's Office. At the request of one of the participating agencies, IIC intercepts (offsets) refunds such as:

  • Tax refunds
  • Lottery winnings
  • Unclaimed property payments

The offsets come from individuals or business entities when they owe delinquent debts to government agencies, including the IRS and California colleges.
An interagency intercept may occur against an individual when an intercept request is made by a:

  • State
  • County or city agency
  • University
  • Special district
  • The Internal Revenue Service

For a business entity an interagency intercept may be requested by the:

  • Employment Development Department
  • California Department of Tax and Fee Administration

If the individual has an intercept request from any of the requestors listed and there is a refund due, we intercept that refund and remits funds, up to the amount of the debt, to the requesting agency. Furthermore, refunds from jointly filed tax returns may be applied to the debts of either taxpayer filing the return. After all tax liabilities are paid, the remainder will be refunded.

TOP is a centralized offset program that collects delinquent debts owed to federal agencies and states. We partner with TOP to offset federal payments and tax refunds in order to collect delinquent state income tax obligations. If a taxpayer has a California income tax debt and is entitled to a federal income tax refund, we are authorized to withheld from that refund, or offset it, to pay the balance due.

As you can see, our partnership with other state and federal agencies help resolve either delinquent income taxes or other government debt. Visit interagency intercept collection or Treasury Offset Program on our website for more information.