Parents question child support payments to the government

Parents question child support payments to the government »Play Video
Parent Laurie Freeland questions the $25 child support fee she must pay to the government.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — An act signed into law by former President George W. Bush in 2006 requires parents who receive more than $500 in child support to give the government $25 of that money annually. It's part of the Federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005.

The act required states to assess who would have to pay for the fee. If custodial parents received more than $500 annually for child support and had never been on public assistance, they are required to pay.

"They're charging me again to use a service they provide. I didn't understand it," parent Laurie Freeland said.

She received the letter from the Department of Child Support Services and was shocked. But all states are required to do it.

"States had options and one of them was to pay the fee themselves. For two years, actually three years, the state of California paid the $25 fee and did not assess that on custodial parent's collections," director of Child Support Services Phyllis Nance said.

But the state can no longer afford to pay for it. The fee was passed on to parents. The fee serves two purposes.

"With the collection of the fees, we are hoping to minimize the reductions to the child support program in the next fiscal budget year. They were anticipating it in revenue so we are hoping that we won't have any major cuts in next year's budget," Nance said.

The other goal is to help with the federal deficit.

Eyewitness News found that in Kern County alone there are 17,000 potential never-assisted cases. If all of those cases had to pay the $25 fee, that would be $425,000 taken away from parents in Kern County. Twenty-five dollars annually may not sound like a lot of money for some, but for parents who rely on the funds it is.

"That's one day of daycare. That's maybe 1/3 of a week of groceries, a tank of gas. It's punishing the recipients of the child support again. It isn't fair. Why aren't they punishing both ends of the spectrum and not just the receivers," Freeland said.

The fee is required in all states, but not everyone is required to pay it. For questions regarding the fee, visit the Department of Child Support Services online.