Tax guide

Child Support, Debt, and Your Stimulus Payments

Can My COVID-19 Relief Payments be Garnished by Creditors?

Taxpayers in debt could have money legally withheld in some situations from their paychecks, refunds and even stimulus payments—but the rules of garnishment are different depending on the payment that is being garnished.

In the case of COVID-19 relief efforts, whether or not your stimulus payment can be garnished depends on the relief package in question.

Is my CARES Act stimulus money (EIP1) protected from garnishment?

The first relief package (via the CARES Act) protected stimulus payments from federal or state debts that normally offset tax refunds, but didn’t protect stimulus payments from past-due child support. If you owed back child support, the missing amount could be pulled from your EIP1.

If you still have unpaid child support, remember that your Recovery Rebate Credit money is not protected from garnishment from federal and government agencies and could be reduced by what you owe.

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Is my Consolidated Appropriations Act stimulus payment (EIP2) protected from garnishment?

Coronavirus relief included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act is protected from garnishment of past-due child support, unlike the CARES Act payments. Unpaid child support won’t affect your EIP2, but it could still reduce your Recovery Rebate Credit amount, even if you’re claiming missing amounts from EIP2.

Is my American Rescue Plan Act stimulus payment (EIP3) protected from garnishment?

Yes—federal and state debts like child support cannot be garnished from your EIP3.

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