A Look Inside OCSE - Story Series
Thanks to our strong employer partnerships, the child support program collected $24 billion through income withholding in 2018. OCSE has been growing this relationship since forming the Employer Services team in 1996 after passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. The team’s primary responsibility was to help implement new hire reporting. Within a year, OCSE saw the need to expand outreach to employers who were eager to understand their child support responsibilities. Today, the Employer Services team collaborates with employers and child support agencies and provides training at national and state employer conferences.
Electronic income withholding orders
One of our most successful collaborations resulted in implementing the electronic income withholding order (e-IWO) program. Employers register with OCSE so they can receive income withholding orders quickly and conveniently. Currently, the e-IWO system contains over 15,000 Federal Employer Identification Numbers. Since its inception in 2005, the system has exchanged over 10 million orders and is responsible for over $800 million in increased collections. The Employer Services team continues to enroll employers and responds to inquiries every day.
Child Support Portal
Hearing that the lump sum reporting process was difficult for employers because of variations in state laws and processes, the Employer Services team worked with representatives from states and employers to develop the lump sum reporting application on the Child Support Portal. Now, employers have a central, standard process to report lump sums to multiple child support agencies at once. Portal functions quickly expanded to include the ability to report employee terminations, a useful feature for employers. They can report to almost all states, saving valuable time previously spent notifying each state individually. State child support agencies benefit by receiving prompt notifications of upcoming lump sum payments and employee terminations.
Recently, we’ve added Information Updates to the Portal, allowing employers to provide addresses and their points of contact for different programs, such as income withholding and medical support. We also collaborated with the Department of Labor and the American Payroll Association to change Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate. Employers can now add an employee’s date of employment, which is the first day the individual performed services for pay. This corrects a previous change and allows employers to use the form for new hire reporting again. Another update added language explaining the requirement to report new hires.
Since employer withholding represents 75% of all program collections, maintaining the partnership between employers and the child support program is critically important to improving collections. OCSE’s Employer Services team seeks new ways to increase employer-withheld collections by improving efficiencies of existing collection tools, tapping underused sources of collections, and educating employers about their program responsibilities.
This article was originally published in the September 2019 Child Support Report.