The Alabama Department of Human Resources has decided to put families owed child support first in line to receive seized income tax refunds. The decision comes more than two years after federal law required them to do so.
A story in Tuesday's Advertiser newspaper said DHR has intercepted about $3.6 million in state income tax refunds from parents delinquent in child support payments, since a change in federal law in October 2000.
Despite the change in federal law, DHR Commissioner Bill Fuller told the newspaper the state did not change the way it was distributing the money until last month. Fuller said the delay was caused by difficulties DHR has had in getting its child support computer system up to federal standards.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently informed DHR it would have to pay at least $4.4 million in fines because its system for collecting and distributing child support payments is not automated up to federal standards.
Fuller also said parents who think they are owed money from an intercepted state income tax refund should contact their county DHR office.