Treasury Offset Program (TOP)

What is the Treasury Offset Program and How Does It Work?
The Treasury Offset Program is a centralized offset program, administered by the The Bureau of the Fiscal Service's Debt Management Services (DMS), to collect delinquent debts owed to federal agencies and states (including past-due child support), in accordance with 26 U.S.C. 6402(d)Exit Fiscal Service Web site (collection of debts owed to federal agencies), 31 U.S.C. 3720AExit Fiscal Service Web site (reduction of tax refund by amount of the debts), and other applicable laws.

How Does It Work?
Fiscal Service disburses federal payments, such as federal tax refunds, for agencies making federal payments (known as "payment agencies"), such as the Internal Revenue Service. "Creditor agencies," such as the Department of Education, submit delinquent debts to the Fiscal Service for collection and inclusion in TOP and certify that such debts qualify for collection by offset (the reduction or withholding of a payment).

Payment agencies prepare and certify payment vouchers to Fiscal Service and disbursing officials at other federal agencies that are non-Treasury disbursed (such as the Department of Defense), who then disburse payments. The payment vouchers contain information about the payment including the name and Tax Identification Number (TIN) of the recipient.

Before an eligible federal payment is disbursed to a payee, disbursing officials compare the payment information with debtor information, which has been supplied by the creditor agency, in Fiscal Service's delinquent debtor database. If the payee's name and TIN match the name and TIN of a debtor, the disbursing official offsets (withholds) the payment, in whole or in part, to satisfy the debt, to the extent legally allowed.

Fiscal Service transmits amounts collected through offset to the appropriate creditor agencies. Fiscal Service maintains information about the delinquent debt in the TOP delinquent debtor database and continues to offset eligible federal payments until the creditor agency suspends or terminates debt collection or offset activity for the debt.

A creditor agency will suspend collection if the debt is subject to a bankruptcy stay or if other reasons justify suspension. A creditor agency will terminate collection of a debt if it is paid in full, compromised, discharged, or if other reasons justify termination.

Where Does the Fiscal Service Get the Authority to Offset Federal Payments?
The disbursing official is required to perform such offset pursuant to 31 U.S.C. 3716(c)Exit Fiscal Service Web site.

If you have questions regarding the offset of your federal tax refund or offset of another U.S. government-issued payment, you can call our Treasury Offset Program (TOP) Call Center to obtain agency contact information during our customer service hours.

  • Toll Free: (800) 304-3107
  • TDD number: (866) 297-0517

   Last Updated:  March 25, 2014