What is the Treasury Offset Program (TOP)?+
The Treasury Offset Program (TOP) is a debt collection program administered by the Bureau of Fiscal
Services (BFS), which is a division of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Section 303(m) of the Social
Security Act requires IDES to send eligible unemployment compensation debts to TOP for offset of the
debtor’s federal income tax refund. A debtor whose unemployment compensation debt is eligible for
collection through TOP will receive a Federal Tax Offset Notice notifying the debtor of IDES’s intent to
intercept the debtor’s federal income tax refund to satisfy an unemployment compensation debt owing to
IDES. The notice provides the debtor an opportunity to resolve or dispute the debt within 60 days.
If you have overpayments due to fraud or failure to correctly report earnings, your debt will be referred to
What is an "offset"?+
An offset is when the federal income tax refund you would have received is used to pay all or a portion of
a debt owing to a federal or state agency. If the full amount owed is not collected in one year, future
offsets may be done to satisfy your debt.
How will I know if my federal income tax refund was used to offset a debt?+
When your federal income tax refund is intercepted to offset a debt, the Bureau of Fiscal Services
(BFS), will send you a letter notifying you of the amount of the offset, the agency where the offset was
sent, and the contact information for that agency.
When is a debt sent to the Treasury Offset Program (TOP)?+
In general, when your debt is more than 90 days delinquent, the Illinois Department of Employment
Security (IDES) must determine that your debt is valid and collection is legally enforceable. IDES will
send you a Federal Tax Offset Notice letter about your debt and provide you with the opportunity to
resolve or dispute your debt within 60 days. After 60 days, your debt will be submitted to the TOP for
IDES will respond to questions and inquiries regarding your debt. If you have not received a notice about
your debt, your debt may not be eligible for federal offset.
How does the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) work?+
- If you owe a delinquent debt to a Government agency or a state and that agency identifies it is
eligible for offset, you are sent a Federal Tax Offset Notice letter.
- After the notice is sent, you have 60 days to: repay the debt, agree to a repayment plan, request a
review, or notify the agency of your bankruptcy.
- After 60 days if the debt is still delinquent, IDES will send information about your debt to the
- Before you receive a federal payment such as a tax refund, the database is searched to see if you
owe a delinquent debt.
- If your debt is in the database, your federal payment will be reduced or withheld to pay your debt.
- When your payment is taken, a letter from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will be sent to you
regarding the action.
What kinds of federal payments can be reduced?+
Depending upon the type of debt you owe, the following federal payments may be eligible for offset:
- Tax refunds
- Federal wages, including military pay
- Federal retirement, including military retirement pay
- Contractor/vendor payments
- Travel advances and reimbursements
- Certain federal benefit payments, such as Social Security (other than Supplemental Security Income), Railroad Retirement (other than tier 2) and Black Lung (part B benefits)
- Other federal payments that are not expressly exempted from offset
Federal law limits the amount that may be withheld from some types of federal payments.
Why do I owe this debt?+
Any person who has received unemployment compensation benefits to which he is not entitled is liable to
repay those benefits. IDES is authorized to intercept state income tax refunds, lottery winnings, and
federal income tax refunds to offset unemployment compensation debts.
How can I avoid having my debt offset for payment?+
Whom should I contact regarding my debt?+
Illinois Department of Employment Security
Benefit Payment Control, Overpayment Recovery and Collections
If your debt has been paid in full, or if you do not owe the debt for other reasons, IDES is responsible for
instructing Treasury to stop the offset process. IDES is also responsible for returning to you any part of
your payment that should not have been reduced.
To verify the amount of the offset, call:
Treasury Offset Program Call Center
Whom should I contact regarding the offset?+
If you have questions about the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) offsets, or a notice you received from the
Bureau of Fiscal Services (BFS), you may contact the Treasury Offset Program Call Center at 1-800-304-
3107. Many state and federal agencies offset debts through TOP. The notice you receive from the
BFS will list the name of the agency or agencies that requested offsets from your federal income tax
refund, along with contact information for those agencies.
What does the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) Call Center do?+
How does a debtor know that he/she is in the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) delinquent debtor
How do I dispute a debt being sent to the Treasury Offset Program (TOP)?+
Can I appeal the amount owed?+
When your debt was originally established, you were provided with an opportunity to appeal the original
determination. The time to file an appeal has expired. The Treasury Offset Program (TOP), is a
collection process and is not appealable under Illinois law.
How will I know if my federal payment was intercepted to pay a state debt?+
My spouse and I filed a joint federal tax return and our refund was intercepted for a debt that my spouse owes. How can I get my portion of the refund back?+
Will there be any fees associated with the offset?+
Yes, the Bureau of Fiscal Services (BFS), will collect an administrative fee for every offset from your
federal income tax refund. This fee is collected from your refund before any debts owing to IDES are
satisfied. IDES does not collect this fee. For example, if the administrative fee is $17, your debt to IDES
is $150, and your tax refund is $167, BFS will take $17 from your tax refund to satisfy the administrative
fee and will send the remaining $150 to IDES to satisfy your debt. If your debt to IDES is $1,000 and
your tax refund is only $120, BFS will take $17 from your tax refund to satisfy the administrative fee,
will send the remaining $103 to IDES, and your debt will remain in the TOP database until the remaining
$897 of your debt is paid.
What if I have a repayment agreement with IDES? +
If you have a repayment agreement with IDES and you have not received a broken agreement letter,
missed a payment, or made a payment for less than the amount required in your agreement, you should
continue to make your payments on schedule. If you entered into a repayment agreement with IDES and
you missed a payment, stopped making payments, or made payments in amounts less than what is
required by your repayment agreement, you have broken your repayment agreement and IDES may send
your debt to the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) for offset of your federal income tax refund.
What if I don't give you permission to take my federal payment?+
State and federal laws authorize the Treasury Offset Program (TOP). IDES is not required to secure your
permission prior to submitting your unpaid liability to TOP.
I paid IDES in full, but my federal refund was still offset. What should I do?+
At the time your debt was submitted to the Bureau of Fiscal Services (BFS), your debt was not paid in
full. Although the IDES sends updated information to BFS to reflect a change in the balance due, it is
possible that the amount offset will be more than the balance due at the time of the offset. If IDES
receives an amount that is more than what is owed to IDES, IDES will refund the excess to you once it
has been posted to your account. If your federal refund was from a jointly filed return, your refund will
be issued in both names.