Tags: unpaid | child | support | taxpayers

CNNMoney: Taxpayers Owed Billions from Unpaid Child Support

By Michelle Smith   |   Tuesday, 06 Nov 2012 08:03 AM

Over $100 billion is owed in unpaid child support and it's not just custodial parents who are getting stiffed. Nearly half of the arrears are owed to U.S. taxpayers.

According to the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement, $108 billion in total back payments was owed to parents with custody of children in 2009, says CNNMoney.

About 49 percent of that back money — or $53 billion — is owed to the government, according to Joan Entmacher, vice president of family & economic security of the National Women's Law Center, according to CNNMoney.

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How did the government, and thus taxpayers, end up footing the bill for parents who didn't step up?

Two words: public assistance.

The Census Bureau reports that of $35.1 billion in child support due in 2009, 61 percent was reported as received. Child support represented 62.6 percent of the average income for custodial parents below poverty who received full support.

Child support is clearly an essential source of income for many people.

In many cases, however, when single custodial parents do not receive what has been ordered from their co-parents, they will turn to government programs for assistance. When these individuals qualify, taxpayers become somewhat like creditors for those parents who are not paying their child support because the government steps in with public assistance. Then, the government attempts to recover the taxpayer dollars later.

However, the sums outstanding reveal that this system does not always operate as smoothly as one would hope.

A lot of taxpayers who are not associated with the child support system are likely unaware of how high the costs are for society when parents don't fulfill their obligations. But, for the individuals who are owed and trying to raise their children it's a different story.

That's a raw deal for taxpayers. But for the parents owed — 82 percent of custodial parents are women — it's the severing of an economic lifeline, says CNNMoney.

"This represents eye glasses, dentist visits," Entmacher added. "For a mom trying to get it together, income stability is really important."

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