The Minnesota Department of Revenue can keep your Minnesota income or property tax refund, or lottery prize if you owe money to a state or county agency. The tax department sends your refund to the agency that you owe. This is called “revenue recapture.” It is used to collect overpayments of public assistance, medical bills from county or city hospitals, school loans, child support, debts to public housing authorities, and fines or restitution in criminal cases.
Even if you owe the money, they cannot take your refund if:
Your debt is for medical bills, AND your income at the time you got the medical care was below a certain level. This level changes each year. Call the Department of Revenue at (651) 556-3003 to get the income limits for the year you got the medical care. The income limit is based on the number of dependents you had in that year.
Your debt is for an overpayment of public assistance, AND you still get either the same kind of public assistance or SNAP (food stamps). But they can take your refund while you are still on assistance if you were overpaid because you lied or broke the rules of the assistance program on purpose.
You have a payment plan with the agency, you are keeping up with the payments and the plan says they won’t use recapture.
Your debt is more than 6 years old. There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, they can recapture for student loan debts even after 6 years.
In all of the above cases, they can’t take your refund, but you must tell them so in writing.
Write to the agency that says you owe them money, not to the Department of Revenue. Put at the top of the letter that it is a “Revenue Recapture Appeal.” Briefly explain why they shouldn’t keep your refund.
The reasons can be that:
you do not owe the money or
even if you owe the money, you are protected from recapture – see above.
Keep a copy of the letter. The agency must get your appeal within 45 days of the date of their notice was mailed to you. The agency should set a hearing within 30 days. You don’t need a lawyer, but you may want to call one for advice.
You don’t have a right to a hearing if the debt comes from a court judgment or order.
If you didn’t get a notice of your rights from the agency, you can still appeal:
Write to the agency to ask for an appeal.
Your 45 day appeal time does not start running until you get written notice that they want to use revenue recapture.
If the agency says it sent you a notice, but you never got it, then you get a hearing on 2 issues. First, did you actually get a notice? Second, can they take your refund?