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How does DTA collect overpayments if you are not receiving benefits?

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DTA made a number of changes and suspended a number of rules during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Guide notes in red when a rule was suspended during the pandemic.

Produced by Deborah Harris and Betsy Gwin, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed December 2022

DTA has several ways of collecting overpayments from former recipients.

DTA will send a repayment plan notice and monthly payment notices. If you don’t comply with a repayment plan, DTA will try to intercept your state tax refund and may try to use one of the other collection methods below.

You can ask DTA to reduce the monthly payment amount if your income is below 300% of the Federal Poverty Level. Call the Recoveries Unit, 1-800-462-2607, to ask about this.

Tax intercept. The Department of Revenue (DOR) may intercept your state tax refund to pay back an overpayment. Before your state tax refund is intercepted, you should get notice from DTA. You can ask for a DTA hearing to show that you were not overpaid or that the amount of the overpayment is wrong. See Appeal Rights. You will also get notice after the intercept, but DTA says you cannot challenge the overpayment after the intercept, so try not to wait for the intercept to ask for a hearing.

Wage attachment. DTA regulations allow DTA to attach your wages to collect overpayments established by a court order, DTA hearing, or voluntary repayment agreement. 106 C.M.R. § 706.295. Unless you agree to wage attachment, there are strict limits on how much DTA can attach. G.L. c. 18, § 30; G.L. c. 235, § 34. In most cases, you should not agree to a wage attachment.

Offsetting a payment from another agency. DTA can collect an overpayment by stopping a payment owed to you by another state agency, such as a transportation reimbursement. G.L. c. 7A, § 3; 815 C.M.R. § 9.00.

Other collection methods. DTA can turn over the debt to a collection agency. A collection agency is not permitted to harass you, cannot threaten to take the first $500 a week in gross wages, and can only take amounts in excess of $2,500 from a bank account. G.L. c. 235, § 34; 940 C.M.R. § 7.07(18).

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