WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Taxation and Internal Revenue Service Oversight, and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, today reintroduced the Tribal Child Support Enforcement Act. The bipartisan legislation would improve child support enforcement for tribal child support agencies by allowing the more than 60 tribes that currently operate their own child-support programs to access the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program, which allows them to collect past-due child support from non-custodial parents. The bill would also, among other things, create parity between tribes and states by ensuring tribal child support agencies have access to the same information as states do to administer their child support programs.
“Tribal child support agencies do not currently have access to certain federal programs and information that would make it easier for them to collect past-due child support from non-custodial parents,” said Thune. “By ensuring that tribes have the same access to these programs and information as states, we can help Native American families in South Dakota – and across the country – receive the child support payments that they are owed, and also put tribal and state programs on equal footing.”
“Tribes in Oregon and nationwide need and deserve the same abilities as state child support agencies to ensure families can recover past-due child support payments,” said Wyden. “This common-sense, bipartisan bill takes a significant step to ensure Tribal youngsters aren’t deprived of financial support that can be used for food, housing and other essentials that add up to the healthiest and safest possible childhood.”
“The National Child Support Engagement Association (NCSEA) has long-supported this legislation to provide our tribal partners with the same tax offset tools that states have as well as give all child support agencies necessary access to tax information to further support children,” said Erin Frisch, president of NCSEA. “This legislation is our top priority this year and we are pleased to see the bipartisan support for the measure.”
“The Nation Tribal Child Support Association (NTCSA) supports the legislation to provide tribal child support programs with the Federal Tax Offset Program,” said Sand Cloer, president of NTCSA. “Our state partners have has this tool for many years. Tribal child support programs continue to work hard for our Indian children in order to afford them the same financial opportunities as all other children. This legislation is vital to our programs.”
“The economic, political, and social linkages between our Tribe and children are critical and often ignored at the children’s peril,” said Gregg Duffek, president of the National Association of Tribal Child Support Directors. “With passage of this critical legislation, we will be able to provide greater enforcement of child support for our families. We applaud the efforts of Senator Thune and Chairman Wyden for continuing to support tribal families.”
States have several enforcement methods at their disposal to enforce child support, one being the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program. With this program, when a non-custodial parent is due a refund but owes past-due child support, the U.S. Department of the Treasury can withhold the tax refund and send it to the child support agency to get it to the family.Thune and Wyden’s legislation unanimously passed out of the Senate during the previous Congress on July 13, 2021.