The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says it will not garnish stimulus checks for back taxes. It will, however, take money from your payment if you're behind on child support.
States have to report individuals who owe child support to the federal Treasury Offset Program (TOP), which collects state and federal debts aside from income tax debts. The CARES Act, which authorized the coronavirus stimulus payments, allows TOP to collect delinquent child support obligations. It can take your entire stimulus check, up to the amount that you owe.
If you're married to someone who owes child support (and you don't), you can file an injured spouse form. This can allow you to keep the portion of the stimulus that doesn't belong to your spouse.
"Injured spouse relief may be available when Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, is filed to get back a portion of a joint refund when the joint overpayment is applied to a past-due obligation of the other spouse,” says Susan Allen, senior manager for tax practice and ethics at the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants. “Taxpayers don't need to wait until they file their next tax return to file a Form 8379. Thus, if a taxpayer thinks he or she is entitled to injured spouse relief and therefore should receive an economic stimulus payment, he or she should go ahead and file the form."