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Why is my federal refund amount less than what my return stated?

If you received a lower refund amount than what was stated on your federal return, this might be due to the Treasury Offset Program (TOP). If you have certain debts, the Department of Treasury’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS) may use some or all of your federal refund to pay for these debts. This can include:

  • Past due child support
  • Federal Agency non-tax debts
  • State income tax obligations
  • Certain unemployment compensation debts owed to a state

If any amount of your refund has been used in this way, The Department of Treasury’s Bureau of Fiscal Service should send you a notice. The notice will include the original refund amount, your offset amount, and contact information for the agency. To dispute the amount taken from your refund, contact the agency listed on the notice.

If you don’t receive a notice and your federal refund amount differs from the refund amount shown on your tax return, you can contact the BFS’ TOP call center at 800-304-3107 (or TTY/TDD 866-297-0517), Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST.

You can read more about the Treasury Offset Program in IRS topic no. 203: Reduced Refund.

2018 Tax Season Refund Frequently Asked Questions is also available from the IRS for more general information on refunds.

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