Clarification of DCL-06-16: Implementation of the $25 Annual Fee in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005
DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER
DATE: September 1, 2006
TO: ALL STATE IV-D DIRECTORS
RE: Clarification of DCL-06-16: Implementation of the $25 Annual Fee in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA of 2005)
As you know, the DRA of 2005, Public Law 109-171, was signed by President George W. Bush on February 8, 2006. On May 3, 2006, we issued a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL-06-16) that may be ambiguous with respect to States' implementation of the $25 annual fee provision of the DRA of 2005. We want to clarify to States that we did not intend to suggest that the mandatory fee provision may not be implemented at all by States until publication of a final rule. Rather, although proposed regulations regarding implementation and fee collection procedures are forthcoming, States should plan to implement the fee requirement in accordance with the statutory language by the appropriate effective date that applies to each State, as explained below.
As stated in DCL-06-16, section 7310 of the DRA of 2005, Mandatory Fee for Successful Child Support Collection for a Family That Has Never Received TANF, amends section 454(6) of the Social Security Act (the Act) to provide that a State child support plan must provide for the imposition of an annual fee of $25 in each case in which an individual has never received assistance under a State program funded under title IV-A of the Act and for whom the State has collected at least $500 of support. In order to implement this new requirement, States will be required to submit a State plan amendment certifying to the Secretary that the State has implemented the $25 annual fee requirement. The plan amendment will also require States to indicate which option and method is used to impose the fee. States will not be penalized for fee procedures they implement that are reasonable and consistent with the statutory fee language. A new State preprint page will be provided to the States before the end of the fiscal year. States will be informed of the date by which their revised State plan provisions must be submitted.
In accordance with section 7310 of the DRA of 2005, the State plan amendment requirement is effective October 1, 2006. If State legislation is necessary to amend the State plan to provide for the mandatory $25 annual fee, the effective date of the statutory provision shall be three months after the first day of the first calendar quarter beginning after the close of the first regular session of the State legislature that begins after February 8, 2006. It is our understanding that many States will need to enact such legislation in the State legislative sessions that begin in January of 2007 because that is the first regular legislative session that begins after February 8, 2006, the date the DRA of 2005 was enacted.
We intend to publish the proposed regulations before the end of 2006, in order to provide States with as much guidance as possible, as soon as possible. Once final regulations are published in response to comments on the proposed rules, States will be given time to make any necessary changes to their fee provisions. Final regulations are expected to be published by the end of 2007.
We apologize for any confusion the previous DCL may have caused and will work with each of you to ensure that the statutory requirement is met and that all questions and issues raised by the States are addressed. The State/Federal partnership is very important to us and critical to our successful work for children and families.
Office of Child Support Enforcement
cc: Regional Program Managers
ACF Regional Administrators
Tribal IV-D Directors