Taxpayers are filing their taxes early this year to avoid having an identity thief file their return before they do. But what is surprising some is that the government keeps their tax refund and uses it to pay down their student loan debt when they are in default. Called the Treasury Offset Program, the Department of Education is able to take Social Security payments and tax refunds and apply them to outstanding debt that you have not been paying.
Experts in the field say the Department of Education is required to notify you ahead of time if they intend to apply this offset program to your funds. Within this notification are rules and what you can do to avoid this happening to your tax refund at tax time.
You can request a hearing if your loan was not in default when the funds were taken and have them sent to you. Another thing you can do is to adjust your withholding on the w-9 form. This tells your employer to not take as much out of your checks each pay period. This will give you more money during the year to pay your student loan payments, and reduce your refund at the end of the year.
Also, set up a payment option with your student loan that you can afford. Getting in default of you student loan causes problems in your financial life that you would rather avoid. Your credit will be affected and the interest you need to pay on other loans is likely to go up.