Can You Check IRS Offset Online? A Comprehensive Guide to Reduced Refunds

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may reduce your tax refund to offset certain debts you owe to the government or other entities. This process is known as an offset. Understanding how offsets work and how to check if your refund has been offset is crucial for managing your tax liabilities. This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of reduced refunds due to offsets, including how to check your offset status online.

What is an IRS Offset?

An IRS offset occurs when the IRS reduces your tax refund to satisfy outstanding debts you owe to the government or other entities. These debts may include:

  • Past-due child support
  • Federal agency nontax debts
  • State income tax obligations
  • Unemployment compensation debts owed to a state

How to Check IRS Offset Online

You can check your IRS offset status online through the IRS website. Here are the steps:

  1. Create an IRS Online Account: If you don’t already have an IRS Online Account, create one at
  2. Log In: Once you have an account, log in using your username and password.
  3. Access Your Tax Records: Click on the “Tax Records” tab.
  4. View Your Refund Status: Under “Refund Status,” you will see a message indicating whether your refund has been offset.

What to Do if Your Refund Has Been Offset

If you discover that your refund has been offset, you should:

  • Contact the Agency that Initiated the Offset: Determine which agency submitted your debt for offset and contact them to discuss your payment options.
  • File an Injured Spouse Claim (Form 8379): If you filed a joint tax return and your spouse owes the debt, you may be eligible to claim your portion of the refund by filing Form 8379.
  • Dispute the Offset: If you believe the offset is in error, you can dispute it by contacting the IRS.

Additional Information

  • Not All Debts are Subject to Offset: Certain debts, such as federal tax debts, are not subject to offset.
  • Timeframe for Offset: The IRS typically offsets refunds within 11 weeks of filing your tax return.
  • Offset Notice: The IRS will send you a notice if your refund has been offset.
  • Contact Information: For more information or assistance, contact the IRS at 800-829-1040.

By understanding the IRS offset process and following the steps outlined in this guide, you can effectively manage your tax liabilities and ensure that you receive the full refund you are entitled to.


How do I get a federal tax offset?

Federal nontax debt, like student loans. The IRS makes offsets for past due federal taxes. All other offsets are handled by the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Fiscal Service (Fiscal Service). For federal tax offsets, you’ll get an IRS notice. For all other offsets, the notice will come from Fiscal Service.

When should I contact the IRS about a Debt offset notice?

Contact the IRS only if your original refund on the debt offset notice differs from the refund amount on your return. Learn exactly what to do if you get an IRS notice about a tax return or account problem — like when the IRS offsets your refund. You can also get an expert to look into the issue for you.

What is a tax refund offset?

If you owe money to a federal or state agency, the federal government may use part or all of your federal tax refund to repay the debt. This is called a tax refund offset. If your tax refund is lower than you calculated, it may be due to a tax refund offset for an unpaid debt such as child support.

How do I know if I have an offset?

To find out if you may have an offset or if you have questions about an offset, contact the agency to which you owe the debt. We also may have changed your refund amount because we made changes to your tax return. You’ll get a notice explaining the changes.

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