Can they hold onto your stimulus check for debts, back taxes, or child support?
Many Americans have COVID-19 stimulus checks either in the mail or on the way to be direct deposited into their bank accounts.
If you filed taxes this year or last or receive Social Security Benefit, you’re eligible for a $1200 COVID-19 payment. (That includes Social Security retirement, disability, or SSI payments).
Additionally, many Ohioans will also be receiving supplemental unemployment checks of $600 a week under the CARES act. This money is for those who’ve lost their jobs due to COVID-19
Many of you have asked us if those checks can be attached or garnished for outstanding debts, back taxes, or back child support. According to Ohio Attorney General, Dave Yost, the answers are no, no, and yes. We break down who can take your money.
Yost says he’s alerted creditors and banks that COVID-19 stimulus checks are protected by Ohio law. He’s posted a notice on the state’s website in case any companies have questions.
“The stimulus checks were intended to be used during an emergency – to put food on the table, keep the lights on, and a roof over our heads,” Yost said. “It wasn’t meant to pay off an old bill,” Yost said.
Federal law prohibits the checks from being garnished for debts owned to federal or state governments. But there’s no mention of debt collectors. That’s why Yost thought it was important to issue the notice about state law. “Sometimes, state law gives greater protection than federal law.”
Yost says the checks are also exempt from state and federal attachment for back taxes.
Yost cited Ohio Revised Code 2329.66(A)(12)(d) and said it applies to payments under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act:
A payment in compensation for loss of future earnings of the person or an individual of whom the person is or was a dependent, to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor and any of the debtor’s dependents.
If you are in default on a federally guaranteed student loan, they will not be able to garnish your stimulus check.
The CARES act does allow money owed for back child support to be garnished.