U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: Sep 21, 2019

§ 285.11 - Administrative wage garnishment.

(a) Purpose. This section provides procedures for Federal agencies to collect money from a debtor's disposable pay by means of administrative wage garnishment to satisfy delinquent nontax debt owed to the United States.

(b) Scope. (1) This section applies to any Federal agency that administers a program that gives rise to a delinquent nontax debt owed to the United States and to any agency that pursues recovery of such debt.

(2) This section shall apply notwithstanding any provision of State law.

(3) Nothing in this section precludes the compromise of a debt or the suspension or termination of collection action in accordance with applicable law. See, for example, the Federal Claims Collection Standards (FCCS), 31 CFR parts 900-904.

(4) The receipt of payments pursuant to this section does not preclude a Federal agency from pursuing other debt collection remedies, including the offset of Federal payments to satisfy delinquent nontax debt owed to the United States. A Federal agency may pursue such debt collection remedies separately or in conjunction with administrative wage garnishment.

(5) This section does not apply to the collection of delinquent nontax debt owed to the United States from the wages of Federal employees from their Federal employment. Federal pay is subject to the Federal salary offset procedures set forth in 5 U.S.C. 5514 and other applicable laws.

(6) Nothing in this section requires agencies to duplicate notices or administrative proceedings required by contract or other laws or regulations.

(c) Definitions. As used in this section the following definitions shall apply:

Agency means a department, agency, court, court administrative office, or instrumentality in the executive, judicial, or legislative branch of the Federal Government, including government corporations. For purposes of this section, agency means either the agency that administers the program that gave rise to the debt or the agency that pursues recovery of the debt.

Business day means Monday through Friday. For purposes of computation, the last day of the period will be included unless it is a Federal legal holiday.

Day means calendar day. For purposes of computation, the last day of the period will be included unless it is a Saturday, a Sunday, or a Federal legal holiday.

Debt or claim means any amount of money, funds or property that has been determined by an appropriate official of the Federal Government to be owed to the United States by an individual, including debt administered by a third party as an agent for the Federal Government.

Debtor means an individual who owes a delinquent nontax debt to the United States.

Delinquent nontax debt means any nontax debt that has not been paid by the date specified in the agency's initial written demand for payment, or applicable agreement, unless other satisfactory payment arrangements have been made. For purposes of this section, the terms “debt” and “claim” are synonymous and refer to delinquent nontax debt.

Disposable pay means that part of the debtor's compensation (including, but not limited to, salary, bonuses, commissions, and vacation pay) from an employer remaining after the deduction of health insurance premiums and any amounts required by law to be withheld. For purposes of this section, “amounts required by law to be withheld” include amounts for deductions such as social security taxes and withholding taxes, but do not include any amount withheld pursuant to a court order.

Employer means a person or entity that employs the services of others and that pays their wages or salaries. The term employer includes, but is not limited to, State and local Governments, but does not include an agency of the Federal Government.

Evidence of service means information retained by the agency indicating the nature of the document to which it pertains, the date of mailing of the document, and to whom the document is being sent. Evidence of service may be retained electronically so long as the manner of retention is sufficient for evidentiary purposes.

Garnishment means the process of withholding amounts from an employee's disposable pay and the paying of those amounts to a creditor in satisfaction of a withholding order.

Withholding order means any order for withholding or garnishment of pay issued by an agency, or judicial or administrative body. For purposes of this section, the terms “wage garnishment order” and “garnishment order” have the same meaning as “withholding order.”

(d) General rule. Whenever an agency determines that a delinquent debt is owed by an individual, the agency may initiate proceedings administratively to garnish the wages of the delinquent debtor.

(e) Notice requirements. (1) At least 30 days before the initiation of garnishment proceedings, the agency shall mail, by first class mail, to the debtor's last known address a written notice informing the debtor of:

(i) The nature and amount of the debt;

(ii) The intention of the agency to initiate proceedings to collect the debt through deductions from pay until the debt and all accumulated interest, penalties and administrative costs are paid in full; and

(iii) An explanation of the debtor's rights, including those set forth in paragraph (e)(2) of this section, and the time frame within which the debtor may exercise his or her rights.

(2) The debtor shall be afforded the opportunity:

(i) To inspect and copy agency records related to the debt;

(ii) To enter into a written repayment agreement with the agency under terms agreeable to the agency; and

(iii) For a hearing in accordance with paragraph (f) of this section concerning the existence or the amount of the debt or the terms of the proposed repayment schedule under the garnishment order. However, the debtor is not entitled to a hearing concerning the terms of the proposed repayment schedule if these terms have been established by written agreement under paragraph (e)(2)(ii) of this section.

(3) The agency will retain evidence of service indicating the date of mailing of the notice.

(f) Hearing - (1) In general. Agencies shall prescribe regulations for the conduct of administrative wage garnishment hearings consistent with this section or shall adopt this section without change by reference.

(2) Request for hearing. The agency shall provide a hearing, which at the agency's option may be oral or written, if the debtor submits a written request for a hearing concerning the existence or amount of the debt or the terms of the repayment schedule (for repayment schedules established other than by written agreement under paragraph (e)(2)(ii)) of this section.

(3) Type of hearing or review. (i) For purposes of this section, whenever an agency is required to afford a debtor a hearing, the agency shall provide the debtor with a reasonable opportunity for an oral hearing when the agency determines that the issues in dispute cannot be resolved by review of the documentary evidence, for example, when the validity of the claim turns on the issue of credibility or veracity.

(ii) If the agency determines that an oral hearing is appropriate, the time and location of the hearing shall be established by the agency. An oral hearing may, at the debtor's option, be conducted either in-person or by telephone conference. All travel expenses incurred by the debtor in connection with an in-person hearing will be borne by the debtor. All telephonic charges incurred during the hearing will be the responsibility of the agency.

(iii) In those cases when an oral hearing is not required by this section, an agency shall nevertheless accord the debtor a “paper hearing,” that is, an agency will decide the issues in dispute based upon a review of the written record. The agency will establish a reasonable deadline for the submission of evidence.

(4) Effect of timely request. Subject to paragraph (f)(13) of this section, if the debtor's written request is received by the agency on or before the 15th business day following the mailing of the notice described in paragraph (e)(1) of this section, the agency shall not issue a withholding order under paragraph (g) of this section until the debtor has been provided the requested hearing and a decision in accordance with paragraphs (f)(10) and (f)(11) of this section has been rendered.

(5) Failure to timely request a hearing. If the debtor's written request is received by the agency after the 15th business day following the mailing of the notice described in paragraph (e)(1) of this section, the agency shall provide a hearing to the debtor. However, the agency will not delay issuance of a withholding order unless the agency determines that the delay in filing the request was caused by factors over which the debtor had no control, or the agency receives information that the agency believes justifies a delay or cancellation of the withholding order.

(6) Hearing official. A hearing official may be any qualified individual, as determined by the head of the agency, including an administrative law judge.

(7) Procedure. After the debtor requests a hearing, the hearing official shall notify the debtor of:

(i) The date and time of a telephonic hearing;

(ii) The date, time, and location of an in-person oral hearing; or

(iii) The deadline for the submission of evidence for a written hearing.

(8) Burden of proof. (i) The agency will have the burden of going forward to prove the existence or amount of the debt.

(ii) Thereafter, if the debtor disputes the existence or amount of the debt, the debtor must present by a preponderance of the evidence that no debt exists or that the amount of the debt is incorrect. In addition, the debtor may present evidence that the terms of the repayment schedule are unlawful, would cause a financial hardship to the debtor, or that collection of the debt may not be pursued due to operation of law.

(9) Record. The hearing official must maintain a summary record of any hearing provided under this section. A hearing is not required to be a formal evidentiary-type hearing, however, witnesses who testify in oral hearings will do so under oath or affirmation.

(10) Date of decision. The hearing official shall issue a written opinion stating his or her decision, as soon as practicable, but not later than sixty (60) days after the date on which the request for such hearing was received by the agency. If an agency is unable to provide the debtor with a hearing and render a decision within 60 days after the receipt of the request for such hearing:

(i) The agency may not issue a withholding order until the hearing is held and a decision rendered; or

(ii) If the agency had previously issued a withholding order to the debtor's employer, the agency must suspend the withholding order beginning on the 61st day after the receipt of the hearing request and continuing until a hearing is held and a decision is rendered.

(11) Content of decision. The written decision shall include:

(i) A summary of the facts presented;

(ii) The hearing official's findings, analysis and conclusions; and

(iii) The terms of any repayment schedules, if applicable.

(12) Final agency action. The hearing official's decision will be the final agency action for the purposes of judicial review under the Administrative Procedure Act (5 U.S.C. 701 et seq.).

(13) Failure to appear. In the absence of good cause shown, a debtor who fails to appear at a hearing scheduled pursuant to paragraph (f)(4) of this section will be deemed as not having timely filed a request for a hearing.

(g) Wage garnishment order. (1) Unless the agency receives information that the agency believes justifies a delay or cancellation of the withholding order, the agency should send, by first class mail, a withholding order to the debtor's employer:

(i) Within 30 days after the debtor fails to make a timely request for a hearing (i.e., within 15 business days after the mailing of the notice described in paragraph (e)(1) of this section), or,

(ii) If a timely request for a hearing is made by the debtor, within 30 days after a final decision is made by the agency to proceed with garnishment, or,

(iii) As soon as reasonably possible thereafter.

(2) The withholding order sent to the employer under paragraph (g)(1) of this section shall be in a form prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury. The withholding order shall contain the signature of, or the image of the signature of, the head of the agency or his/her delegatee. The order shall contain only the information necessary for the employer to comply with the withholding order. Such information includes the debtor's name, address, and social security number, as well as instructions for withholding and information as to where payments should be sent.

(3) The agency will retain evidence of service indicating the date of mailing of the order.

(h) Certification by employer. Along with the withholding order, the agency shall send to the employer a certification in a form prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury. The employer shall complete and return the certification to the agency within the time frame prescribed in the instructions to the form. The certification will address matters such as information about the debtor's employment status and disposable pay available for withholding.

(i) Amounts withheld. (1) After receipt of the garnishment order issued under this section, the employer shall deduct from all disposable pay paid to the applicable debtor during each pay period the amount of garnishment described in paragraph (i)(2) of this section.

(2)(i) Subject to the provisions of paragraphs (i)(3) and (i)(4) of this section, the amount of garnishment shall be the lesser of:

(A) The amount indicated on the garnishment order up to 15% of the debtor's disposable pay; or

(B) The amount set forth in 15 U.S.C. 1673(a)(2) (Restriction on Garnishment). The amount set forth at 15 U.S.C. 1673(a)(2) is the amount by which a debtor's disposable pay exceeds an amount equivalent to thirty times the minimum wage. See 29 CFR 870.10.

(3) When a debtor's pay is subject to withholding orders with priority the following shall apply:

(i) Unless otherwise provided by Federal law, withholding orders issued under this section shall be paid in the amounts set forth under paragraph (i)(2) of this section and shall have priority over other withholding orders which are served later in time. Notwithstanding the foregoing, withholding orders for family support shall have priority over withholding orders issued under this section.

(ii) If amounts are being withheld from a debtor's pay pursuant to a withholding order served on an employer before a withholding order issued pursuant to this section, or if a withholding order for family support is served on an employer at any time, the amounts withheld pursuant to the withholding order issued under this section shall be the lesser of:

(A) The amount calculated under paragraph (i)(2) of this section, or

(B) An amount equal to 25% of the debtor's disposable pay less the amount(s) withheld under the withholding order(s) with priority.

(iii) If a debtor owes more than one debt to an agency, the agency may issue multiple withholding orders provided that the total amount garnished from the debtor's pay for such orders does not exceed the amount set forth in paragraph (i)(2) of this section. For purposes of this paragraph (i)(3)(iii), the term agency refers to the agency that is owed the debt.

(4) An amount greater than that set forth in paragraphs (i)(2) and (i)(3) of this section may be withheld upon the written consent of debtor.

(5) The employer shall promptly pay to the agency all amounts withheld in accordance with the withholding order issued pursuant to this section.

(6) An employer shall not be required to vary its normal pay and disbursement cycles in order to comply with the withholding order.

(7) Any assignment or allotment by an employee of his earnings shall be void to the extent it interferes with or prohibits execution of the withholding order issued under this section, except for any assignment or allotment made pursuant to a family support judgment or order.

(8) The employer shall withhold the appropriate amount from the debtor's wages for each pay period until the employer receives notification from the agency to discontinue wage withholding. The garnishment order shall indicate a reasonable period of time within which the employer is required to commence wage withholding.

(j) Exclusions from garnishment. The agency may not garnish the wages of a debtor who it knows has been involuntarily separated from employment until the debtor has been reemployed continuously for at least 12 months. The debtor has the burden of informing the agency of the circumstances surrounding an involuntary separation from employment.

(k) Financial hardship. (1) A debtor whose wages are subject to a wage withholding order under this section, may, at any time, request a review by the agency of the amount garnished, based on materially changed circumstances such as disability, divorce, or catastrophic illness which result in financial hardship.

(2) A debtor requesting a review under paragraph (k)(1) of this section shall submit the basis for claiming that the current amount of garnishment results in a financial hardship to the debtor, along with supporting documentation. Agencies shall consider any information submitted in accordance with procedures and standards established by the agency.

(3) If a financial hardship is found, the agency shall downwardly adjust, by an amount and for a period of time agreeable to the agency, the amount garnished to reflect the debtor's financial condition. The agency will notify the employer of any adjustments to the amounts to be withheld.

(l) Ending garnishment. (1) Once the agency has fully recovered the amounts owed by the debtor, including interest, penalties, and administrative costs consistent with the FCCS, the agency shall send the debtor's employer notification to discontinue wage withholding.

(2) At least annually, an agency shall review its debtors' accounts to ensure that garnishment has been terminated for accounts that have been paid in full.

(m) Actions prohibited by the employer. An employer may not discharge, refuse to employ, or take disciplinary action against the debtor due to the issuance of a withholding order under this section.

(n) Refunds. (1) If a hearing official, at a hearing held pursuant to paragraph (f)(3) of this section, determines that a debt is not legally due and owing to the United States, the agency shall promptly refund any amount collected by means of administrative wage garnishment.

(2) Unless required by Federal law or contract, refunds under this section shall not bear interest.

(o) Right of action. The agency may sue any employer for any amount that the employer fails to withhold from wages owed and payable to an employee in accordance with paragraphs (g) and (i) of this section. However, a suit may not be filed before the termination of the collection action involving a particular debtor, unless earlier filing is necessary to avoid expiration of any applicable statute of limitations period. For purposes of this section, “termination of the collection action” occurs when the agency has terminated collection action in accordance with the FCCS or other applicable standards. In any event, termination of the collection action will have been deemed to occur if the agency has not received any payments to satisfy the debt from the particular debtor whose wages were subject to garnishment, in whole or in part, for a period of one (1) year.

[63 FR 25139, May 6, 1998, as amended at 64 FR 22908, Apr. 28, 1999; 66 FR 51868, Oct. 11, 2001]

§ 285.12 - Transfer of debts to Treasury for collection.

(a) Definitions. For purposes of this section:

Agency means a department, agency, court, court administrative office, or instrumentality in the executive, judicial, or legislative branch of the Federal Government, including government corporations.

Creditor agency means any Federal agency that is owed a debt.

Debt means any amount of money, funds or property that has been determined by an appropriate official of the Federal government to be owed to the United States by a person. As used in this section, the term “debt” does not include debts arising under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

Debt collection center means an agency or a unit or subagency within an agency that has been designated by the Secretary of the Treasury to collect debt owed to the United States. Fiscal Service is a debt collection center.

Fiscal Service means the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, a bureau of the Department of the Treasury.

Person means an individual, corporation, partnership, association, organization, State or local government, or any other type of entity other than a Federal agency.

Secretary means the Secretary of the Treasury.

(b) In general. Cross-servicing means that Fiscal Service or another debt collection center is taking appropriate debt collection action on behalf of one or more Federal agencies or a unit or subagency thereof.

(c) Mandatory transfer of debts to Fiscal Service. (1) Except as set forth in paragraph (d) of this section, a creditor agency shall transfer any debt that is more than 180 days delinquent to Fiscal Service for debt collection services. Agencies that transfer delinquent debts to Fiscal Service for the purposes of debt collection and that rely on Fiscal Service to submit the transferred debts for administrative offset on the agency's behalf must transfer the debts to Fiscal Service no later than 120 days after the debts become delinquent in order to satisfy the 120-day notice requirement for purposes of administrative offset. For accounting and reporting purposes, the debt remains on the books and records of the agency which transferred the debt.

(2) On behalf of the creditor agency, Fiscal Service will take appropriate action to collect or compromise the transferred debt, or to suspend or terminate collection action thereon, in accordance with the statutory and regulatory requirements and authorities applicable to the debt and the action. Appropriate action to collect a debt may include referral to another debt collection center, a private collection contractor, or the Department of Justice for litigation. The creditor agency shall advise Fiscal Service, in writing, of any specific statutory or regulatory requirements pertaining to their debt and will agree, in writing, to a collection strategy which includes parameters for entering into compromise and repayments agreements with debtors.

(3)(i) A debt is considered delinquent for purposes of this section if it is past due and is legally enforceable. A debt is past-due if it has not been paid by the date specified in the agency's initial written demand for payment or applicable agreement or instrument (including a post-delinquency payment agreement) unless other satisfactory payment arrangements have been made. A debt is legally enforceable if there has been a final agency determination that the debt, in the amount stated, is due and there are no legal bars to collection action. Where, for example, a debt is the subject of a pending administrative review process required by statute or regulation and collection action during the review process is prohibited, the debt is not considered legally enforceable for purposes of mandatory transfer to Fiscal Service and is not to be transferred even if the debt is more than 180 days past-due.

(ii) When a final agency determination is made after an administrative appeal or review process, the creditor agency must transfer such debt to Fiscal Service, if more than 180 days delinquent, within 30 days after the date of the final decision.

(iii) Nothing in this section is intended to impact the date of delinquency of a debt for other purposes such as for purposes of accruing interest and penalties.

(4) Agencies are not required to transfer to Fiscal Service debts which are less than $25 (including interest, penalties, and administrative costs), or such other amount as Fiscal Service may determine. Agencies may transfer debts less than $25 to Fiscal Service if the creditor agency, in consultation with Fiscal Service, determines that transfer is important to ensure compliance with the agency's policies or programs. Agencies may combine individual debts of less than $25 owed by the same debtor for purposes of meeting the $25 threshold.

(d) Exceptions to mandatory transfer. (1) A creditor agency is not required to transfer a debt to Fiscal Service pursuant to paragraph (c)(1) of this section only during such period of time that the debt:

(i) Is in litigation or foreclosure as described in paragraph (d)(2) of this section;

(ii) Is scheduled for sale as described in paragraph (d)(3) of this section;

(iii) Is at a private collection contractor if the debt has been referred to a private collection contractor in accordance with paragraph (e) of this section;

(iv) Is at a debt collection center if the debt has been referred to a Treasury-designated debt collection center in accordance with paragraph (f) of this section;

(v) Is being collected by internal offset as described in paragraph (d)(4) of this section; or

(vi) Is covered by an exemption granted by the Secretary as described in paragraph (d)(5) of this section.

(2)(i) A debt is in litigation if:

(A) The debt has been referred to the Attorney General for litigation by the creditor agency; or

(B) The debt is the subject of proceedings pending in a court of competent jurisdiction, including bankruptcy proceedings, whether initiated by the creditor agency, the debtor, or any other party.

(ii) A debt is in foreclosure if:

(A)(1) Collateral securing the debt is the subject of judicial foreclosure proceedings in a court of competent jurisdiction; or

(2) Notice has been issued that collateral securing the debt will be foreclosed upon, liquidated, sold, or otherwise transferred pursuant to applicable law in a nonjudicial proceeding; and

(B) The creditor agency anticipates that proceeds will be available from the liquidation of the collateral for application to the debt.

(3) A debt is scheduled for sale if:

(i) The debt will be disposed of under an asset sales program within one (1) year after becoming eligible for sale; or

(ii) The debt will be disposed of under an asset sales program and a schedule established by the creditor agency and approved by the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

(4) A debt is being collected by internal offset if a creditor agency expects the debt to be collected in full within three (3) years from the date of delinquency through internal offset. A debt is being collected by internal offset if the creditor agency is withholding funds payable to the debtor by the creditor agency, or if the creditor agency has issued notice to the debtor of the creditor agency's intent to offset such funds.

(5)(i) Upon the written request of the head of an agency, or as the Secretary may determine on his/her own initiative, the Secretary may exempt any class of debts from the application of the requirement described in paragraph (c)(1) of this section. In determining whether to exempt a class of debts, the Secretary will determine whether exemption is in the best interests of the Government after considering the following factors:

(A) Whether an exemption is the best means to protect the government's financial interest, taking into consideration the number, dollar amount, age and collection rates of the debts for which exemption is requested;

(B) Whether the nature of the program under which the delinquencies have arisen is such that the transfer of such debts would interfere with program goals; and

(C) Whether an exemption would be consistent with the purposes of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA), Pub. L. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321-358 (April 26, 1996).

(ii) Requests for exemptions must clearly identify the class of debts for which an exemption is sought and must explain how application of the factors listed above to that class of debts warrants an exemption.

(iii) Requests for exemption must be made by the head of the agency requesting the exemption, the Chief Financial Officer of the agency, or the Deputy Chief Financial Officer of the agency. For purposes of this section, the head of an agency does not include the head of a subordinate organization within a department or agency.

(6) In accordance with paragraph (d)(5)(i) of this section, debts being serviced and/or collected in accordance with applicable statutes and/or regulations by third parties, such as private lenders or guaranty agencies are exempt from the requirements in paragraph (c)(1) of this section.

(e) Schedule of private collection contractors. Fiscal Service will maintain a schedule of private collection contractors eligible for referral of debts from Fiscal Service, other debt collection centers, and creditor agencies for collection action. An agency with debt which has not been transferred to Fiscal Service or referred to another debt collection center, for example, debt that is less than 180 days delinquent, may refer such debt to a private collection contractor listed on Fiscal Service' schedule of private collection contractors provided they do so in accordance with procedures established by Fiscal Service. Alternatively, an agency may refer debt that is less than 180 days delinquent to a private collection contractor pursuant to a contract between the creditor agency and the private collection contractor, as authorized by law.

(f) Debt collection centers. A creditor agency may transfer debt that has not been transferred to Fiscal Service, such as debt less than 180 days delinquent, to a Treasury-designated debt collection center, with the consent of, and in accordance with procedures established by Fiscal Service. Debt collection centers will take action upon a debt in accordance with the statutory or regulatory requirements and other authorities that apply to the debt or to the particular action being taken. Debt collection centers may, on behalf of the creditor agency and subject to the terms under which the debt collection center has been designated as such by the Secretary, take any action to collect, compromise, suspend or terminate collection action on debts, in accordance with terms and conditions agreed upon in writing by the creditor agency and the debt collection center or Fiscal Service. Debt collection centers may charge fees for the debt collection services in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (j) of this section.

(g) Administrative offset. As described in paragraph (c) of this section, under the DCIA, agencies are required to transfer all debts over 180 days delinquent to Fiscal Service for purposes of debt collection (i.e., cross-servicing). Agencies are also required, under the DCIA, to notify the Secretary of all debts over 120 days delinquent for purposes of administrative offset. Administrative offset is one type of collection tool used by Fiscal Service and Treasury-designated debt collection centers to collect debts transferred under this section. Thus, by transferring debt to Fiscal Service or to a Treasury-designated debt collection center under this section, Federal agencies will satisfy the requirement to notify the Secretary of debts for purposes of administrative offset and duplicate referrals are not required. Agencies relying on Fiscal Service to submit debts for administrative offset on the agency's behalf must transfer the debts to Fiscal Service no later than 120 days after the debts become delinquent in order to satisfy the 120-day notice requirement for purposes of administrative offset. A debt which is not transferred to Fiscal Service for purposes of debt collection, however, such as a debt which falls within one of the exempt categories listed in paragraph (d) of this section, nevertheless may be subject to the DCIA requirement of notification to the Secretary for purposes of administrative offset.

(h) Voluntary referral of debts less than 180 days delinquent. A creditor agency may refer any debt that is less than 180 days delinquent to Fiscal Service or, with the consent of Fiscal Service, to a Treasury-designated debt collection center for debt collection services.

(i) Certification. Before a debt may be transferred to Fiscal Service or another debt collection center, the head of the creditor agency or his or her delegatee must certify, in writing, that the debts being transferred are valid, legally enforceable, and that there are no legal bars to collection. Creditor agencies must also certify that they have complied with all prerequisites to a particular collection action under the laws, regulations or policies applicable to the agency unless the creditor agency has requested, and Fiscal Service has agreed, to do so on the creditor agency's behalf. The creditor agency shall notify Fiscal Service immediately of any change in the status of the legal enforceability of the debt, for example, if the creditor agency receives notice that the debtor has filed for bankruptcy protection.

(j) Fees. Fiscal Service and other debt collection centers (as defined in paragraph (a) of this section) may charge fees sufficient to cover the full cost of providing debt collection services authorized by this section. Fees paid to recover amounts owed may not exceed amounts collected. Nothing in this rule precludes a creditor agency from agreeing to pay fees for debt collection services which are not based on amounts collected. Fiscal Service and debt collection centers are authorized to retain fees from amounts collected and may deposit and use such fees in accordance with 31 U.S.C. 3711(g). Fees charged by Fiscal Service and other debt collection centers may be added to the debt as an administrative cost if authorized under 31 U.S.C. 3717(e).

[63 FR 16356, Apr. 2, 1998, as amended at 64 FR 22908, Apr. 28, 1999; 81 FR 1319, Jan. 12, 2016]

§ 285.13 - Barring delinquent debtors from obtaining Federal loans or loan insurance or guarantees.

(a) Definitions. For purposes of this section:

Agency means a department, agency, court, court administrative office, or instrumentality in the executive, judicial, or legislative branch of the Federal Government, including government corporations.

Creditor agency means any Federal agency that is owed a debt.

Debt means any amount of money, funds or property that has been determined by an appropriate official of the Federal Government to be owed to the United States or an agency thereof by a person, including debt administered by a third party as an agent for the Federal Government.

Federal financial assistance or financial assistance means any Federal loan (other than a disaster loan), loan insurance, or loan guarantee.

Fiscal Service means the Bureau of the Fiscal Service, a bureau of the Department of the Treasury.

Nontax debt means any debt other than a debt under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 U.S.C. 1 et seq.).

Person means an individual, corporation, partnership, association, organization, State or local government, or any other type of entity other than a Federal agency.

Secretary means the Secretary of the Treasury.

(b) Purpose and scope. (1) This section prescribes standards for determining whether an outstanding nontax debt owed to the Federal Government is in delinquent status and whether such delinquency is resolved for the purpose of denying Federal financial assistance to a debtor. In addition, this section prescribes the circumstances under which the Secretary may exempt a class of debts from affecting a debtor's loan eligibility. This section also outlines the factors an agency should consider when determining whether waiver of the general rule in paragraph (c) of this section is appropriate.

(2) Additional guidance concerning debt collection and debt management is provided in “Managing Federal Receivables” and other Fiscal Service publications.

(3) Nothing in this section requires an agency to grant Federal financial assistance if denial otherwise is authorized by statute, regulation, or agency policies and procedures. For example, if an agency requires borrowers to have a satisfactory credit history, the agency may deny financial assistance even if a delinquent debt has been resolved.

(4) This section does not confer any new rights or benefits on persons seeking Federal financial assistance.

(5) This section applies to any person owing delinquent nontax debt and to any agency that administers a program that grants Federal financial assistance.

(c) General rule. (1) As required by the provisions of 31 U.S.C. 3720B,a. This eligibility requirement applies to all persons seeking Federal financial assistance and owing an outstanding nontax debt in delinquent status, including, but not limited to, guarantors. This eligibility requirement applies to all Federal financial assistance even if creditworthiness or credit history is not otherwise a factor for eligibility purposes, e.g., student loans. A person may be eligible for Federal financial assistance only after the delinquency is resolved in accordance with this section. An agency may waive this eligibility requirement in accordance with paragraph (g) of this section.

(2) An agency from which a person seeks Federal financial assistance may determine, under standards issued by the agency, that a person is ineligible for Federal financial assistance under this section if:

(i) The person is controlled by a person owing an outstanding nontax debt that is in delinquent status (e.g., a corporation is controlled by an officer, director, or shareholder who owes a debt); or

(ii) The person controls a person owing an outstanding nontax debt that is in delinquent status (e.g., a corporation controls a wholly-owned or partially-owned subsidiary which owes a debt).

(3) A creditor agency may obtain information concerning whether or not a person seeking Federal financial assistance owes a delinquent debt from, among other sources, credit reports, information contained on credit applications, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Credit Alert Interactive Voice Response System (CAIVRS). For information about participating in the CAIVRS program, agencies should contact the Director of Information Resources Management, Policy and Management Division, Office of Information Technology, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 7th Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20410.

(d) Delinquent status. (1) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (d)(2) of this section, a debt is in “delinquent status” for purposes of this section if the debt has not been paid within 90 days of the payment due date. The payment due date is the date specified in the creditor agency's initial written demand for payment or applicable agreement or instrument (including a post-delinquency repayment agreement).

(2) For purposes of this section, a debt is not in delinquent status if:

(i) The person seeking Federal financial assistance has been released by the creditor agency from any obligation to pay the debt, or there has been an adjudication or determination that such person does not owe or does not have to pay the debt;

(ii) The debtor is the subject of, or has been discharged in, a bankruptcy proceeding, and if applicable, the person seeking Federal financial assistance is current on any court authorized repayment plan; or

(iii) The existence of the debt or the agency's determination that the debt is delinquent is being challenged under an ongoing administrative appeal or contested judicial proceeding and the appeal was filed by the debtor in a timely manner. Unless otherwise prohibited, an agency may defer making a determination as to whether or not to extend credit until the appeal process is completed.

(3) Unless the provisions of paragraph (d)(2) apply, a debt is in delinquent status even if the creditor agency has suspended or terminated collection activity with respect to such debt. For example, a delinquent nontax debt that has been written off the books of the creditor agency or reported to the Internal Revenue Service as discharged (i.e., canceled) is in delinquent status for purposes of this section.

(4) Nothing in this section defines the terms “delinquent” or “delinquent status” for any purposes other than those described in this section.

(e) Delinquency resolution. (1) For purposes of this section, a person's delinquent debt is resolved only if the person:

(i) Pays or otherwise satisfies the delinquent debt in full;

(ii) Pays the delinquent debt in part if the creditor agency accepts such part payment as a compromise in lieu of payment in full;

(iii) Cures the delinquency under terms acceptable to the creditor agency in that the person pays any overdue payments, plus all interest, penalties, late charges, and administrative charges assessed by the creditor agency as a result of the delinquency; or

(iv) Enters into a written repayment agreement with the creditor agency to pay the debt, in whole or in part, under terms and conditions acceptable to the creditor agency.

(2) Unless the provisions of paragraph (e)(1) of this section apply, a delinquent debt is not resolved even if the creditor agency has suspended or terminated collection activity with respect to such debt. For example, a delinquent nontax debt that has been written off the books of the creditor agency or reported to the Internal Revenue Service as discharged (i.e. , canceled) would not be “resolved.” If the provisions of paragraph (e)(1) of this section do apply, a delinquent debt is considered resolved. For example, if a portion of a debt has been written off after the person has paid the debt in part where the creditor agency accepts such part payment as a compromise in lieu of payment in full, the entire debt would be deemed “resolved” for purposes of this section in accordance with paragraph (e)(1)(ii) of this section.

(f) Exemptions by the Secretary. (1) Upon the written request and recommendation of the head of the creditor agency to which a class of debts is owed, the Secretary may exempt any class of debts from affecting a debtor's eligibility for Federal financial assistance based on the provisions of 31 U.S.C. 3720B and this section.

(2) The creditor agency recommending an exemption for a class of debts will provide the Secretary with information about:

(i) The nature of the program under which the delinquencies have arisen;

(ii) The number, dollar amount, and age of the debts in the program for which exemption is recommended;

(iii) The reasons why an exemption is justified, including why the granting of financial assistance to persons owing the type of debt for which exemption is requested would not be contrary to the Government's goal to reduce losses by requiring proper screening of potential borrowers; and,

(iv) Other information the Secretary deems necessary to consider the exemption request.

(3) The Secretary may exempt a class of debts if exemption is in the best interests of the Federal Government.

(g) Waivers by the agency. (1) The head of an agency from which a person seeks to obtain Federal financial assistance may waive the eligibility requirement described in paragraph (c) of this section. Waivers shall be granted only on a person by person basis. The head of the agency may delegate the waiver authority only to the Chief Financial Officer of the agency. The Chief Financial Officer may redelegate the authority only to the Deputy Chief Financial Officer of the agency.

(2) The authorized agency official should balance the following factors when deciding whether to grant a waiver under paragraph (g)(1) of this section:

(i) Whether the denial of the financial assistance to the person would tend to interfere substantially with or defeat the purposes of the financial assistance program or otherwise would not be in the best interests of the Federal Government; and

(ii) Whether the agency's granting of the financial assistance to the person is contrary to the Government's goal to reduce losses from debt management activities by requiring proper screening of potential borrowers.

(3) When balancing the factors described in paragraph (d)(2) of this section, the authorized agency official should consider:

(i) The age, amount, and cause(s) of the delinquency and the likelihood that the person will resolve the delinquent debt; and

(ii) The amount of total debt, delinquent or otherwise, owed by the person and the person's credit history with respect to repayment of debt.

(4) Each agency shall retain a centralized record of the number and type of waivers granted under this section.

(h) Effect of denial of Federal financial assistance. Nothing contained in this section precludes a person who has been denied Federal financial assistance from obtaining such assistance after that person's delinquent debt has been resolved in accordance with paragraph (e)(1) of this section.

[63 FR 67756, Dec. 8, 1998]