Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

An IRS change cut child support for Native moms. Other families may be next.

A standoff with Congress rooted in taxpayer privacy has prompted the IRS to cut off a form of child support for families in at least 10 Native American tribes, a scenario that could be replicated in all 50 states as soon as this fall, affecting hundreds of thousands more households.

Every year, more than 1 million tax refunds are garnished at the request of state governments and rerouted to custodial parents. Those efforts are a key piece of the nation's child support pipeline - representing $2 billion, or 6 percent of such payments in 2022. For many families, those seizures are the only source of child support.

But federal law doesn't allow Native American tribes to collect overdue child support through the tax system, and the IRS has suspended a workaround that formerly allowed some tribes to seize those funds. Meanwhile, a separate concern over states' data sharing could upend the system more broadly.


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