Can my student loan lendertake my tax refund?

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Can my student loan lendertake my tax refund?

I currently have an offset for my taxes but I am filling Chapter 7.  However, it won’t be discharged for another 6 weeks or so. Will I get my refund?

Asked on January 30, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Washington

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, the government has a great deal of discretion to use against borrowers who have defaulted on their student loan obligations.  And when it comes to tax refunds, the government can seize your refund directly; it does not have to wait until you deposit it into your bank account.  The IRS can intercept any income tax refund you may be entitled to until your student loans are paid in full.  In fact, this is one of the most popular methods of collecting on defaulted loans.

And your bankruptcy filing may not affect this.  Virtually all student loan debts are non-dischargable in bankruptcy.  Unless you can prove that repaying it would be a severe hardship, you must repay the debt.  For bankruptcy purposes this is a difficult standard to meet.  In deciding whether or not a genuine and "severe hardship" exists, the court will consider your income/expenses, the reason for non-payment, how long this reason(s) is likely to continue, and how hard did you try to make you payments.  

Note:  You may have your student loan obligation cancelled (depending on the type of loan you have) if you have a disability or severe economic hardship.  In some cases, you may not be able to cancel the entire loan but you may be able to get rid of a portion of it.  For more information you can contact The Student Loan Borrower Assistance website at www.studentloanborrowerassistance.org discusses conditions for the cancellation or deferment in more detail and how to apply for such a cancellation.  You can also contact your loan holder or the Federal Student Aid office at: 800-621-3115 or  http://www.ed.gov/offices/OSFAP/DCS/index.html) to determine if you qualify for cancellation.


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