Identification Number:
Intended Audience:All RCs/ARCs/ /ADs/FOs/TSCs/PSCs/OCO/OCS
Originating Office:DCBFM OFPO
Title:Handling Inquiries about the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) Refund Call- in Notices – One-Time-Only Instructions
Type:EM - Emergency Messages
Program:All Programs
Link To Reference:See References at the end of this EM.
Retention Date: September 27, 2020

A. Purpose

This EM provides instructions for handling inquiries about notices the agency sends to debtors who may be eligible to receive a refund of a Federal or State payment(s) that the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) offset via the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) and we used to recover their delinquent Title II or Title XVI overpayment.

B. Background

Effective May 12, 2017, we no longer refer Title II, Title VIII, or Title XVI debts with a delinquency date of May 19, 2002 or earlier to TOP. Our automated External Collection Operation (ECO) system no longer selects these debts for external collection, therefore you do not need to take any manual action to prevent TOP selection or referral. Debts with a delinquency date after May 19, 2002 remain eligible for TOP referral.

Because of this policy change, we will offer refunds to debtors who have a debt with a delinquency date of May 19, 2002 or earlier, if we previously recovered part or all of the debt via TOP. Debtors who are not in this group and whose debts we recovered via TOP are not eligible to receive a refund. Furthermore, debtors in this group who elect to receive a refund are still responsible for repaying the overpayment to us.

Beginning in April 2018 we will release TOP refund call-in notices via staggered mailings over a period of several months to debtors who are eligible for a refund.

NOTE: Only assigned technicians in established Centralized Processing Locations should accept calls and process refunds.

C. Procedure for employees, excluding the Centralized Processing Locations

If a debtor alleges he or she is eligible to receive a refund of an offset, do not take any action to process a refund to the debtor. Instead, follow the instructions below for all inquiries related to a TOP refund call-in notice.

If you receive a call from a debtor inquiring about TOP in general, respond to the inquirer using the instructions in GN 02201.029.

D. Responding to inquiries from individuals who claim they are eligible to receive a refund

If you receive an inquiry about a potential refund of a Federal or State payment withheld to recover a delinquent debt, follow this procedure:

          I. Review the Correct Treasury Offset Amount (TRCA) Screen in the Debt Management System (DMS).
            II. Determine whether the inquirer is included in the specified group potentially eligible for a refund by reviewing the “TOP REFUND STATUS” field:
              · If NO (The debtor is not a part of the refund group), the “TOP REFUND STATUS” and “TOP REFUND AMOUNT” fields will both have an “NA” pre-populated to the screen:

                Respond as follows, and refer to existing overpayment policy and procedures to assist the inquirer:
                “I’m sorry, but our records indicate that you are not eligible to receive a refund. Refunds were limited to debtors with overpayments 10 or more years delinquent, whose federal or state tax refund we previously offset. Is there anything else I can assist you with today?”

                Stop here and go to Step IV.
              · If YES (the debtor is a part of the refund group), the TOP REFUND STATUS field may say, Eligible for Refund, Determined Ineligible, Refunded, Refused Refund, or Deceased.
                    o Go to Step III.
        Important: If the TRCA screen indicates any status other than NA, do not take any action on the screen. Proceed to Step III.
            III. Query the Online Retrieval System (ORS) to see if we sent the caller a refund call-in notice.

              · If YES, respond as follows:
                  “Thank you for your inquiry regarding the notice we sent you on (DATE OF NOTICE). For further assistance, please contact (PHONE NUMBER LISTED ON NOTICE). The representatives at that number will be able to answer your questions, and provide additional information to you.”
                  · If NO:
                        o Update the debtor’s record with his/her current address.

                        o Inform the debtor that he or she should receive a notice in the next few months.

              Note: If a call-in notice is in ORS, but the caller never received it, update the debtor’s record with his/her current address, provide the phone number listed on the notice, and instruct the debtor to call that number for assistance.

                IV. Document the call in DMS Remarks with detailed notes of the conversation.
          E. Responding to allegations of non-receipt of a TOP refund payment

          If you receive an inquiry from a debtor who claims they called previously to request a refund of their overpayment after receiving a notice, but never received a refund payment, direct the debtor to call the phone number on their notice for assistance. If they do not have their notice, query ORS for the notice copy, and then provide the phone number listed on the notice to the debtor.

          Direct all program-related and technical questions to your RO support staff or PC OA staff. RO support staff or PC OA staff may refer questions or problems to their Central Office contacts.

          F. Exhibits

          Exhibit A. – Sample TOP refund call-in notice:

          Exhibit B. – Sample TOP refund follow-up notice:

          Sample Call-In Follow-up Notice.pdfSample Call-In Follow-up Notice.pdf

          Exhibit C. – Sample TOP refund final reminder notice:

          Sample Call-In Final Attempt Notice.pdfSample Call-In Final Attempt Notice.pdf

          Exhibit D. – Sample TOP refund payment (manual) notice:

          Sample Refund Notice.pdfSample Refund Notice.pdf

          EM-17014 SEN – Treasury Offset Program (TOP) Policy Change
          GN 02201.029 – The Treasury Offset Program (TOP)
          GN 02201.030 – Collection of Title II Overpayments by Tax Refund Offset (TRO)
          SI 02220.012 – Collection of Title XVI Overpayments By Tax Refund Offset (TRO)
          DMS 014.005 – Correct Treasury Offset Amount (TRCA)
          TC 27010.030 – Handling TRO Postcertification/Postoffset Inquiries

          EM-18009 - Handling Inquiries about the Treasury Offset Program (TOP) Refund Call- in Notices – One-Time-Only Instructions - 03/27/2018