WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, and John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight today introduced legislation to improve child support enforcement for Native American tribes by allowing the 61 tribes that currently operate their own child support agencies to access the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program to collect past-due child support from non-custodial parents.
It would also create parity between tribes and states by allowing tribal child support agencies to obtain other identifiable information of non-custodial parents that can be used to enforce child support.
“Tribal governments in Oregon and across America should have access to the same child support enforcement programs as state agencies,” said Wyden. “Equal access to these important resources and tools means more families and children will get the support they need.”
“State child support agencies have access to federal programs that assist them in collecting past-due child support from non-custodial parents,” said Thune. “By ensuring tribes operating their own child support agencies have access to these same programs and information provided to states, we can help families in Indian Country receive child support payments that are past due and help put tribal and state programs on equal footing.”
“By giving tribal governments the same child support collection tools and safeguards available to their state partners, the bill is a great collaborative effort to further enhance state and tribal programs and the children they serve,” said Tanguler Gray, president of the National Child Support Association. “The National Child Support Enforcement Association has long-sought the improvements contained in the bill and supports them whole-heartedly.”
“The NATCSD is extremely pleased by the introduction of the Tribal Child Support Enforcement Act,” said Susan Smith, president of the National Association of Tribal Child Support Directors. “Our sincere thanks to those who have persistently and tirelessly worked for the introduction of this Bill. We look forward to the passage of this Bill as it will assist Tribal IV-D agencies in collecting child support arrears due to tribal families.”
“On Behalf of the National Tribal Child Support Association and our 400 colleagues, we are extraordinarily pleased that federal lawmakers are addressing the current disparity in our efforts to collect child support arrearages on behalf of tribal children,” said Marsha Harlan, president of the National Tribal Child Support Association. “Passage of this Act will allow Tribal IV-D programs to have equal access to the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program that states have had for many years. Tribal access to these funds ensure our programs can capture refunds of non-custodial parents and apply those dollars directly to collections for children who are desperately in need of support.”
States have several enforcement methods at their disposal to enforce child support, one being the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program. With this program, when a non-custodial parent is due a refund but owes past-due child support,Treasury can withhold the tax refund and send it to the state child support agency to get it to the family.