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Regulatory Debt Collection Authorities
Code of Federal Regulations
31 CFR Part 285


Title 31 - Money and Finance: Treasury

Parts 202-391 (including part 285)

On October 7, 2012, the Secretary of the Treasury issued Treasury Order 136–01, establishing within the Department of the Treasury the Bureau of the Fiscal Service (Fiscal Service). The new bureau consolidated the bureaus formerly known as the Financial Management Service (FMS) and the Bureau of the Public Debt (BPD). On October 2, 2013, Fiscal Service published a final rule that changed references in 31 CFR Part 202-391 from “FMS” or “BPD” to "Fiscal Service."

PDF document Text icon Final Rule (October 2, 2013)

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Part 285 – Debt Collection Authorities Under the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996

Section 5 of the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 amended the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 to reduce the time period in which federal agencies must notify the Secretary of the Treasury of past due, non-tax debts for the purposes of administrative offset. Fiscal Service amended its regulations to conform to this legislative change by replacing references to debts that are at least "180 days" delinquent as the notice requirement for federal agencies for administrative offset purposes with "120 days." Additional revisions were made to clarify procedures for agencies that rely on Fiscal Service to submit debts for administrative offset on their behalf through its Cross-Servicing Program.

PDF document Final Rule (January 12, 2016)

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Subpart A - Disbursing Official Offset

Section 285.1 - Collection of Past-Due Support by Administrative Offset

The Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to collect past-due support by the administrative offset of federal payments. This authority is codified in 31 U.S.C. § 3716(h). In addition, Executive Order 13019 of September 28, 1996 directed the Secretary to develop and implement procedures necessary for the collection of past-due support debts by administrative offset.

PDF document Text icon Final Rule (August 28, 1998)
PDF document Text icon Interim Rule (July 7, 1997)

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Section 285.2 - Offset of Tax Refund Payments to Collect Past-Due, Legally Enforceable Non-Tax Debt

Fiscal Service, in its role as a disbursing official, is responsible for the implementation of centralized administrative offset of federal payments for the collection of delinquent non-tax debt owed to federal agencies. Fiscal Service conducts centralized offset of federal payments through the Treasury Offset Program. Under 26 U.S.C. § 6402(d) and 31 U.S.C. § 3720A, the tax refund of a taxpayer who owes delinquent debt to a federal agency is reduced, or offset, by the amounts owed by the taxpayer. This rule governs the tax refund offset procedures applicable to the collection of delinquent non-tax debt owed to federal agencies.

PDF document Text icon Final Rule (August 28, 1998)
PDF document Text icon Interim Rule (June 25, 1997)

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Section 285.3 - Offset of Tax Refund Payments to Collect Past-Due Support

Federal law authorizes the federal tax refund of a taxpayer who owes past-due support to be reduced, or offset, by the amounts owed by the taxpayer. Past-due support includes delinquent child support or other obligations for the support of a child. Fiscal Service conducts the tax refund offset program as part of the centralized offset program, known as the Treasury Offset Program. This rule establishes tax refund offset procedures applicable to the collection of past-due support under 26 U.S.C. § 6402(c) and 42 U.S.C. § 664.

PDF document Interim Rule (December 30, 2015)
PDF document Text icon Final Rule (December 30, 1998)
PDF document Text icon Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (August 4, 1998)

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Section 285.4 - Offset of Federal Benefit Payments to Collect Past-Due, Legally Enforceable non-tax Debt

The Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 requires the federal government to withhold or reduce certain federal payments for the purpose of collecting delinquent non-tax debts owed to the United States by the payee. This process is known as "administrative offset" or "offset." Under 31 U.S.C. § 3716(c)(3), the federal government is specifically authorized to offset federal benefit payments to collect federal non-tax debts. This rule governs the offset of federal benefit payments issued under the Social Security Act (other than Supplemental Security Income), part B of the Black Lung Benefits Act, and any law administered by the Railroad Retirement Board (other than tier 2 benefit payments).

PDF document Text icon Final Rule (December 23, 1998)
PDF document Text icon Interim rule (August 21, 1998)
PDF document Text icon Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (August 21, 1998)

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Section 285.5 - Centralized Offset of Federal Payments to Collect Non-Tax Debts Owed to the United States

The federal government can offset federal payments, including federal tax refunds, to collect delinquent non-tax debts. See 31 U.S.C. § 3716, 31 U.S.C. 3720A, 26 U.S.C. § 6402 and 5 U.S.C. § 5514. Fiscal Service conducts centralized offset of federal payments through the Treasury Offset Program. This rule describes the general rules and procedures applicable to the centralized offset of federal payments to collect delinquent, non-tax debts owed to federal agencies. This rule applies to the centralized offset of all types of federal payments disbursed by federal disbursing officials to collect delinquent, non-tax debts owed to the United States.

PDF document Text icon Final Rule (January 21, 2005)
PDF document Interim Rule (December 26, 2002)

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Section 285.6 - Administrative Offset Under Reciprocal Agreements with States

The federal government can offset federal non-tax payments to collect delinquent debts owed to States pursuant to reciprocal agreements between the Secretary of Treasury and the States as authorized by 31 U.S.C. § 3716(h). In addition to providing for the offset of federal non-tax payments, the reciprocal agreements provide for the offset of State payments to collect delinquent non-tax federal debts. This rule affects persons who owe delinquent debts to a State and who receive federal payments. It also affects persons who owe delinquent non-tax federal debts and who receive payments from States. This rule does not apply to collection of past due support debts (see 31 CFR 285.1), the offset of federal tax refund payments, the offset of federal salary payments, or the offset of other federal payments excluded from offset by law.

PDF document Final Rule (November 3, 2009)
PDF document Interim Rule (January 11, 2007)

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Section 285.7 - Salary Offset

Under 31 U.S.C. § 3716 and 5 U.S.C. § 5514, the federal government is authorized to offset the salary payments of federal employees to collect delinquent federal non-tax debts owed to the United States. This rule establishes centralized procedures for comparing delinquent non-tax debt information with federal salary payment information for the purpose of offsetting the salary payments of federal employees who owe federal non-tax debts to the United States.

PDF document Final Rule (May 3, 2005)
PDF document Text icon Interim Rule (April 28, 1998)

Other rules related to Salary Offset:

PDF document Text icon 5 CFR Part 550 Pay Administration (General); Collection by Offset From Indebted Government Employees (Final Rule) (December 31, 1998)
PDF document Text icon 5 CFR Part 550 Pay Administration (General); Collection by Offset from Indebted Government Employees (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) (April 16, 1998)

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Section 285.8 - Offset of Tax Refund Payments to Collect Certain Debts Owed to States (State Income Tax and Unemployment Compensation Debts

The SSI Extension for Elderly and Disabled Refugees Act of 2008, as amended by the Claims Resolution Act of 2010, and codified in 26 U.S.C. § 6402(e) and (f), authorizes the federal government to offset overpayments of federal taxes (referred to as "tax refund offset") to collect delinquent State unemployment compensation debts and delinquent State income tax obligations. This rule implements this authority.

PDF document Final Rule (September 17, 2015)
PDF document Interim Final Rule (January 28, 2011)
PDF document Text icon Final Rule (January 26, 2005)
PDF document Text icon Interim Rule (December 20, 1999)
PDF document Text icon Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (December 20, 1999)

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Subpart B - Authorities Other than Offset

Section 285.11 - Administrative Wage Garnishment

The Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 authorizes federal agencies to administratively garnish the disposable pay of an individual to collect delinquent non-tax debts owed to the United States. This rule implements the administrative wage garnishment provisions as codified in 31 U.S.C. § 3720D.

PDF document Technical Amendments to Administrative Wage Garnishment Final Rule (October 11, 2001)
PDF document Text icon Final Rule (May 6, 1998)
PDF document Text icon Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (November 21, 1997)

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Section 285.12 - Transfer of Debts to Treasury for Collection

The Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, as codified in 31 U.S.C. § 3711(g)(1), requires federal agencies to transfer delinquent non-tax debts to Fiscal Service for debt collection action and servicing by the program known as Cross-Servicing. This rule establishes the procedures and criteria for transferring delinquent non-tax debt to the Fiscal Service, explains the statutory exceptions to this requirement, and establishes the standards under which the Secretary of the Treasury will make a determination on whether to grant an exemption to this requirement to a class of debts.

PDF document Text icon Final Rule (April 28, 1999)
PDF document Text icon Interim Rule (April 2, 1998)

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Section 285.13 - Barring Delinquent Debtors From Obtaining Federal Loans or Loan Insurance or Guarantees

The Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA) made persons who owe a delinquent federal non-tax debt ineligible for federal direct and indirect loan assistance (other than disaster loans). The specific statutory authority for barring delinquent debtors is 31 U.S.C. § 3720B. This rule defines when a debt is in delinquent status and when a delinquency is resolved for purposes of determining whether the debtor is barred from receiving financial assistance. It also governs when the Secretary of the Treasury may exempt a class of delinquent debts from affecting a debtor's loan eligibility, and establishes the factors for agencies to consider when deciding whether to waive the DCIA eligibility requirement.

PDF document Text icon Final Rule (December 8, 1998)
PDF document Text icon Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (April 22, 1998)

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