Regulatory Debt Collection Authorities
Code of Federal Regulations

Subpart A - Disbursing Official Offset

Section 285.1 - Collection of Past-Due Support by Administrative Offset

SUMMARY: The Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA), enacted on April 26, 1996, authorized the Secretary of the Treasury (Secretary) to collect past-due support by the administrative offset of federal payments. Executive Order 13019 of September 28, 1996 directed the Secretary to promptly develop and implement procedures necessary for the collection of past-due support debts by administrative offset. The Financial Management Service (FMS), a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, published an interim rule on July 7, 1997. This final rule adopts the interim rule with changes incorporating suggestions provided in comments on the interim rule.

PDF File Text file Final Rule
Section 285.1(i) of this Final Rule references a list of payment types exempt from Administrative Offset. A complete list of payments exempt from the Administrative Offset program is now available. Updated March 3, 2003.
PDF File Payments Exempted From Centralized Offset
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Text file Interim Rule

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Section 285.2 - Offset of Tax Refund Payments to Collect Past-Due, Legally Enforceable non-tax Debt

SUMMARY: This final rule adopts the interim rule, published in the Federal Register on June 25, 1997, concerning the tax refund offset procedures applicable to the collection of delinquent non-tax debt owed to federal agencies.

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PDF File Text file Interim Rule

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Section 285.3 - Offset of Tax Refund Payments to Collect Past-Due Support

SUMMARY: Federal law authorizes the Federal tax refund of a taxpayer who owes past-due support to be reduced, or offset, by the amounts owed by the taxpayer. Past-due support includes delinquent child support or other obligations for the support of a child. The funds offset from a taxpayer's tax refund are forwarded to the State enforcing the collection of the past-due support. Effective January 1, 1999, the Department of the Treasury will conduct the tax refund offset program as part of the centralized offset program, known as the Treasury Offset Program, operated by the Financial Management Service (FMS), a bureau of the Department of the Treasury. This final rule establishes tax refund offset procedures that supersede the procedures governing the tax refund offset program established by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and applicable to the collection of past-due support (codified at 26 CFR 301.6402-5). Differences between this rule and the IRS rule reflect requirements necessitated by the inclusion of the tax refund offset program as a part of the Treasury Offset Program.

PDF File Text file Final Rule
PDF File Text file Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

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Section 285.4 - Offset of Federal Benefit Payments to Collect Past-Due, Legally Enforceable non-tax Debt

SUMMARY: The Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 requires the federal government to withhold or reduce certain federal payments for the purpose of collecting delinquent non-tax debts owed to the United States by the payee. This process is known as "administrative offset" or "offset." This final rule governs the offset of federal benefit payments issued under the Social Security Act (other than Supplemental Security Income), part B of the Black Lung Benefits Act, and any law administered by the Railroad Retirement Board (other than tier 2 benefit payments). A notice of proposed rulemaking was published in the Federal Register on August 21, 1998, by cross-reference to an interim rule published in the Federal Register on the same day. This final rule adopts the interim rule without change. The effective date of this rule is January 22, 1999.

PDF File Text file Final Rule
PDF File Text file Interim rule
PDF File Text file Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

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Section 285.5 - Centralized Offset of Federal Payments to Collect Non-Tax Debts Owed to the United States

SUMMARY: This interim rule describes the general rules and procedures applicable to the centralized offset of federal payments to collect delinquent, nontax debts owed to federal agencies. The Department of the Treasury’s Financial Management Service has established the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) in order to centralize the process by which federal payments are withheld or reduced (in other words, offset) to collect delinquent debts. This interim rule specifically applies to the centralized offset of all types of federal payments by Federal disbursing officials to collect delinquent, nontax debts owed to the United States. Therefore, this interim rule affects persons who owe delinquent, nontax debts to the United States and who receive federal payments. It also affects federal agencies that are owed delinquent debts and that disburse and certify federal payments. This rule does not apply to collection of child support debts and other debts owed to States. This rule is effective December 26, 2002.

PDF File Text file Final Rule
SUMMARY: This final rule describes the general rules and procedures applicable to the collection, through the Treasury Offset Program (TOP), of delinquent, nontax debts owed to Federal agencies. TOP is a program administered by the Financial Management Service (FMS), a bureau of the Treasury Department.
PDF File Interim rule

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Section 285.6 - Administrative Offset Under Reciprocal Agreements with States

SUMMARY: This interim rule describes the general rules applicable to the offset of Federal nontax payments to collect delinquent debts owed to States pursuant to reciprocal agreements between the Secretary of Treasury and the States. In addition to providing for the offset of Federal nontax payments, the reciprocal agreements will provide for the offset of State payments to collect delinquent nontax Federal debts. Therefore, this interim rule affects persons who owe delinquent debts to a State of the United States and who receive Federal payments. It also affects persons who owe delinquent nontax Federal debts and who receive payments from States. This rule does not apply to collection of past due support debts (see 31 CFR 285.1), the offset of Federal tax refund payments, the offset of Federal salary payments, or the offset of other Federal payments excluded from offset by law. This rule is effective January 11, 2007. Comments must be received by March 12, 2007.

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Section 285.7 - Salary Offset

SUMMARY: The Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA) requires the federal government to withhold or reduce certain federal payments to satisfy the delinquent non-tax debts owed to the United States by the payee. This process is known as "administrative offset." In addition, the DCIA requires federal agencies, using a process known as centralized salary offset computer matching, to identify Federal employees who owe delinquent non-tax debt to the United States. This interim rule establishes centralized computer matching procedures for comparing delinquent debt information with federal salary payment information for the purpose of offsetting the salary payments of those employees who owe debt to the United States once they are identified. This interim rule also establishes the rules governing the administrative offset of federal salary payments through a centralized offset process operated by the Financial Management Service of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. This rule is effective May 3, 2005.

PDF File Final Rule
PDF File Text file Interim Rule
PDF File Text file 5 CFR Part 550 Pay Administration (General); Collection by Offset From Indebted Government Employees (Final Rule)
PDF File Text file 5 CFR Part 550 Pay Administration (General); Collection by Offset from Indebted Government Employees (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking)

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Section 285.8 - Offset of Tax Refund Payments to Collect Certain Debts Owed to States (State Income Tax and Unemployment Compensation Debts

SUMMARY: This rule implements the authority added by the SSI Extension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act of 2008, as amended by the Claims Resolution Act of 2010, to offset overpayments of Federal taxes (referred to as "tax refund offset") to collect delinquent State unemployment compensation debts. FMS has promulgated a rule governing the offset of federal tax refunds to collect delinquent State income tax obligations at 31 CFR 285.8. This rule amends section 285.8 to include unemployment compensation debts among the types of State debts that may be collected by tax refund offset. This rule does not affect any of the requirements or procedures for collecting delinquent State income tax obligations.

PDF File Interim Final Rule
PDF File Text file Final Rule
SUMMARY: The Final Rule adopts the Interim Rule without change.
PDF File Text file Interim Rule
PDF File Text file Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

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Subpart B - Authorities Other than Offset

Section 285.11 - Administrative Wage Garnishment

This final rule implements the administrative wage garnishment provisions contained in the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA). Wage garnishment is a process whereby an employer withholds amounts from an employee's wages and pays those amounts to the employee's creditor in satisfaction of a withholding order. The DCIA authorizes federal agencies administratively to garnish the disposable pay of an individual to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed to the United States in accordance with regulations issued by the Secretary of the Treasury.

PDF File Technical Amendments to Administrative Wage Garnishment Final Rule
PDF File Text file Final Rule
PDF File Text file Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

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Section 285.12 - Transfer of Debts to Treasury for Collection

SUMMARY: The Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA) requires federal agencies to transfer any non-tax debt which is over 180 days delinquent to the Department of the Treasury for debt collection action; this is known as "Cross-Servicing." This rule establishes the procedures and criteria for transferring delinquent debt to the Department of the Treasury, explains the statutory exceptions to this requirement, and establishes standards under which the Secretary of the Treasury will make a determination whether or not to grant exemptions. This rule also mandates that agencies refer debts to private collection contractors and to debt collection centers in accordance with procedures established by the Financial Management Service. This rule is effective May 28, 1999.

PDF File Text file Final Rule
PDF File Text file Interim Rule

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Section 285.13 - Barring Delinquent Debtors From Obtaining Federal Loans or Loan Insurance or Guarantees

SUMMARY: The Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA) mandated a new eligibility requirement for persons seeking Federal financial assistance, namely that delinquent federal debtors are ineligible for Federal direct and indirect loan assistance (other than disaster loans). On April 22, 1998, the Financial Management Service issued a notice of proposed rulemaking proposing rules to define when a debt is in delinquent status and when a delinquency is resolved for purposes of determining whether the DCIA bars a person from receiving financial assistance. The notice of proposed rulemaking also proposed rules governing when the Secretary of the Treasury may exempt a class of delinquent debts from affecting a debtor's loan eligibility, and proposed factors for authorized agency officials to consider when deciding whether to waive the DCIA eligibility requirement. This final rule finalizes the proposed rule, with changes, and addresses issues raised in comments received on the notice of proposed rulemaking. The effective date of this rule is January 7, 1999.

PDF File Text file Final Rule
PDF File Text file Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

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   Last Updated:  March 25, 2014