3 Reasons the IRS Can Keep Your Tax Refund


When you file your income taxes and it shows that you are owed a refund, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will get the money.  There are certain situations where the IRS will keep your refund.

Take a look at three reasons why the IRS can keep your refund and how a tax attorney can help.

Key Insights We Will Discuss

  1.  The IRS will keep your refund if you or your spouse owe federal or state taxes.
  2. If you or your spouse owe other debt, the IRS can keep your refund.
  3. The IRS can keep your refund if it thinks you made an error on your return.

You Owe Federal or State Taxes

One reason the IRS may keep your tax refund is if you – or your spouse – owe back taxes.  The IRS will keep the refund and apply it towards the past debt.

If your spouse accumulated an IRS debt before you were married, the agency will still keep your joint refund to pay the past taxes he or she owes.

Some steps you can take include determining how much money you owe the IRS, verifying the amount is correct, and seeing if there is a way to lower the debt.   If one spouse accumulated the debt prior to marriage, the other spouse can also request part of the refund through an injured spouse claim.

You Owe Other Types of Debt

Another reason the IRS might keep your refund is if you or your spouse owe certain types of debts, including delinquent child support, delinquent student loan debt and past unemployment compensation that was paid out in error.  If you have these debts, the agency may use your refund to pay back the money owed.

If only one spouse has debt, the other spouse can file an injured spouse claim to get his or her portion of a joint refund.  A tax attorney can help you determine if you qualify for this claim and how to file it.

IRS Thinks You Made an Error

If the IRS suspects you made an error on your tax return, it can keep the refund.  Some mistakes that can cause this include if a person’s name and social security number don’t match the IRS’s records.

If the IRS notices inconsistencies in your return, the agency may update your documents and send you a notice of the change.  If you dispute the changes, you can hire a tax attorney to help you navigate the process.

Contact an Attorney

If the IRS is keeping a tax refund you think you’re owed, call Ayar Law at 800.571.7175 to receive free, no-obligation advice from an experienced senior tax attorney.

Executive Summary

  • Owing back taxes can prevent the IRS from releasing your tax refund.
  • If you or your spouse owes money in child support or student loan payments the IRS may apply your tax refund to the debt.
  • If the IRS suspects you made an error on your return it may hold your tax refund.
  • Contact Ayar Law to get free, no-obligation legal tax advice at 800.571.7175

Venar Ayar, Esq.

Venar Ayar, Esq.

Attorney-at-Law, Master of Laws in Taxation
Principal and founder, Ayar Law

Venar is an award-winning tax attorney ranked as a Top Lawyer in the field of Tax Law. Mr. Ayar has a Master of Laws in Taxation – the highest degree available in tax, held by only a small number of the country’s attorneys.