March 02, 2021

Wyden Introduces Bill to Improve Child Support Enforcement on Tribal Lands

Wyden: “This bill is a common-sense step to help…children who might otherwise go without"

Washington, D.C. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today reintroduced legislation to improve child support enforcement by allowing the 60 Native American tribes that currently operate their own child support agencies to access a federal tax refund program that will help them collect past-due child support from non-custodial parents.

“Tribes in Oregon and across the nation deserve access to the same tools as state child support agencies, especially when it comes to making sure families and children get the support they need to thrive during the COVID-19 and pandemic beyond,” said Wyden, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. “This bill is a common-sense step to help tribal child support agencies recover past-due child support payments for children who might otherwise go without.”

States can use several enforcement methods to enforce child support payments, including the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program. With this program, if a non-custodial parent is set to receive a tax refund and owes past-due child support, the U.S. Department of the Treasury can withhold the refund and send it to the state child support agency for disbursement to the family. Extending this program to the 60 tribes that operate their own child support agencies would create parity between tribes and states by allowing tribal child support agencies to obtain other identifiable information of non-custodial parents that can be used to enforce child support.

The Tribal Child Support Enforcement Act is co-sponsored by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on Taxation and IRS Oversight.

“The NATCSD is extremely pleased by the introduction of the Tribal Child Support Enforcement Act,” said Susan Smith, president of the National Association of Tribal Child Support Directors. “Our sincere thanks to those who have persistently and tirelessly worked for the introduction of this Bill. We look forward to the passage of this Bill as it will assist Tribal IV-D agencies in collecting child support arrears due to tribal families. The child support program is one of the most cost-effective and efficient federal programs. Through direct access to federal tax refunds, tribal programs will be able to further enhance those efforts.”

“NCSEA has long-supported and sought this much needed legislation for our tribal partners,” said Lisa Skenandore, president of the National Child Support Enforcement Association. “Having personally worked on this legislation for the last ten years, I couldn’t be more pleased to see this advance. This legislation would give tribal child support programs the same enforcement mechanisms as the state programs and further enhance collections for children who have otherwise missed out. We believe all children deserve the same level of parity and resources within the child support program. We are very thankful to see this legislation move forward.”

“On behalf of the National Tribal Child Support Association and our members, we are once again pleased to see that federal lawmakers are addressing the current disparity in our efforts to collect child support arrearages on behalf of tribal children,” said Marsha Harlan, president of National Tribal Child Support Association. “Passage of this Act will allow Tribal IV-D programs to have equal access to the Federal Tax Refund Offset Program that states have had for many years. Tribal access to these funds ensure our programs can capture refunds of non-custodial parents and apply those dollars directly to collections for children who are desperately in need of support.”