Child support offices intercepts tax refund checks (IN - computer glitch) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Child support office intercepts tax refund checks

By Michael Puente / Staff Writer

Noel and Karen Knight were not planning to go on vacation or buy a new car.

The Lake Station couple just wanted to pay off a few bills with their anticipated $1,600 federal income tax return.

But a glitch with a new computer system in Indiana isn't allowing the couple to get their tax refund. The Indiana State Enforcement Tracking System indicates that Noel Knight owes child support money to his 18-year-old son.

The couple says the computer software - used to track so-called deadbeat parents - is wrong.

"I'm really ticked off about it. I've done my job," the 47-year-old truck driver said.

"Noel makes his child support a priority. That comes before any other bill," Karen Knight added.

When the Knights contacted the Lake County prosecutor's office Child Support Division, they learned other couples are experiencing the same problem.

Despite not being behind on child support payments, thousands of noncustodial parents in Lake County are having their tax returns blocked or garnisheed because of problems with ISETS.

The county prosecutor's office has sent letters to about 13,000 noncustodial parents, advising them that their tax refunds might be intercepted by the ISETS computer system.

However, Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter said up to 7,000 of those noncustodial parents are behind on support payments and won't see their tax refunds.

The ISETS glitch is not limited to Lake County, as about 20 other counties also are experiencing ISETS problems, including neighboring Porter County.

"We're having a major, major problem with the state of Indiana and federal government," said Bruce Dumas, Porter County Child Support Division prosecutor. "There are justifiably angry people."

Valparaiso resident Joe Shay says the holding of his $3,950 refund might force him to lose his home.

"I'm losing my house over this. And what about my wife and two kids, like are they being fed right?" argued Shay, who says he is a year ahead on his child support payments to children from a previous marriage.

Joe Mamlin, child support director for the state Division of Family and Children, said systems in place at the county level have little to do with the tax refund problems.

Instead, Mamlin said his division's plan to integrate child support cases with IRS tax records didn't work as well as hoped.

In Lake County's case, problems started when child support records were transferred to the new statewide system last June.

Just a few months into the new system, many fathers who were not late in paying child support received letters stating they were behind, some into the thousands of dollars.

Officials had hoped the problem would be resolved before tax-filing season, but that hasn't happened.

Mamlin said because the ISETS system is new and Lake County is in the process of updating all child support records, any discrepancies in the amounts owed will be worked out over time.

"They haven't been on the system long enough to correct them," Mamlin said.

Despite the problems, Mamlin is convinced ISETS is worth having.

"A lot of families with children benefit from the fact that we intercept tax refunds," he said. "If not for the positive benefits, we would not go through all of this."

Someone who receives an "off-set" letter from the IRS or a tax preparation service needs to fill out paperwork at the local prosecutor's office to get the owed tax refund released.

Most checks will arrive within 10 to 14 days.


-- Homer Beanfang (, February 17, 2000


This is a shame. But just remember, there have been NO COMPUTER problems because of y2k. This is a mirage. It's a fluke. It's all make-believe.

I truly feel sorry for these men and their famlies, now they're caught up in the miles of paperwork just to get the money back that they shouldn't have lost in the first place.

-- Richard (, February 17, 2000.

There is only one way to deal with this problem and that is...STOP DEALING WITH THE IRS. Declare 9 dependants and stop filing. Once you stop filing, the IRS loses jurisdiction over you.

The IRS claims that over 30 million Americans have stopped filing income tax. Are the prisons full of non tax payers. Absolutely not!!! There is now law that americans are required to file or pay income tax. The income tax is voluntary.

-- ... (, February 17, 2000.

This is an indirect result of big government. If you are for big government, then you are seeing the fruits of your labor. If you are against big government, then vote to change it. More importantly, find people who share your views, and encourage them to vote accordingly. The country has deteorated to this point because of the one-two punch of misguided voters who are for big government, and apathetic non-voters.

-- J (Y2J@home.comm), February 17, 2000.

The sad thing is that this could take months to resolve...speaking from my past experience in San Bernardino, California. It's a real bummer to pay what you are supposed to pay, on time...then be punished by incompetent (un)civil servants!

-- Mad Monk (, February 17, 2000.

My favorite topic!!!!Government multilevel relational database.

Each state has an Auditors site and should post the reports: this is from Texas:

2-7-00 An Audit Report on Selected Initiatives of the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General 00-009 15

If anyone doesn't think that nationwide we're in for a ride, guess again. Our OAG managed to escape the penalty, but has to race to get the data base in compliance <<<>>>correct an old erroneous system and ensure that his subcontractor meets datelines and compliance. Yeah, rite. Again, this ties in with employers, UI, state, local, Federal.....multi-level, multi-agency. Plus, you'll find a serious attitude problem with personnel in these offices across the board. I monitor this daily. My immediate assessment is that this whole scheme is either stupidity or the result of economic terrorism by a hostile power. My personal recommendation to Dubya is to shut up about welfare reform. It's about to bite. By the way, the earlier SAO reports make for an entertaining evening of reading.... Unless you pay taxes in Texas. I wonder if the SAO staff checks under their cars in the morning.

-- another government hack (, February 17, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ