US Attorney's Office Seizing Tax Refunds For Fine, Restitution Payments

Since January 2008, more than $170,000 has been seized in federal tax checks, economic stimulus benefits, and other federal benefits, to pay restitution, criminal debts, and fines. This is according to the US Attorney General's Office Eastern District.

The Treasury Offset Program (TOP) is a federally managed program to ensure that convicted criminals don't benefit from tax refunds and other federal payments to the detriment of debts owed the federal government or victims of crime.  Locally, it is managed by the Financial Litigation Unit in the Tyler office of the U. S. Attorney's Office.

The Eastern District of Texas has, in calendar year 2008, collected tax refunds, stimulus checks, and other federal benefits from more than 140 convicted felons, including one in excess of $26,000.  The average amount collected was $1,225.   Across the country, more than $6.23 million has been collected since January 2008.  Since its inception, the program has targeted more than 34,400 criminal debts totaling over $5.28 billion. / Cathryn Khalil