Whereas, The deferred operation of this act would tend to defeat its purpose, which is to immediately improve the collection of child support in the commonwealth, therefore it is hereby declared to be an emergency law, necessary for the immediate preservation of the public convenience.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same,
SECTION 1. Chapter 14 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out section 1, as appearing in the 1986 Official Edition, and inserting in place thereof the following two sections:-
Section 1. There shall be a department of revenue, in this chapter called the department, consisting of a division of administration, a division of audit, a division of processing, a division of operations and a division of local services, including within the said division of local services a bureau of local assessment, and a bureau of accounts to be headed by a director of accounts; and such other administrative units as may be established in or assigned to said department from time to time by the secretary of administration. Each division shall be headed by a deputy commissioner and the bureau of accounts shall be headed by a director. Each deputy commissioner, each chief of bureau and the director of the bureau of accounts shall be appointed by the commissioner with the approval of said secretary, and may be removed in like manner; each shall be a person of ability and experience, and shall devote his entire time to the duties of his office; provided, however, that the positions as deputy commissioners, chiefs of bureaus and director shall not be subject to the provisions of chapter thirty-one or section nine A of chapter thirty.
The commissioner may designate a competent employee in the bureau of accounts to perform the duties of the director of accounts in case of his absence, death or disability; and notes of counties, towns and districts, when certified by such employee, shall have the same validity as if certified by the director.
There shall be within the department of revenue, but not subject to its control or supervision, the appellate tax board established by section one of chapter fifty-eight A.
Section 1A. There shall be within the department of revenue a division of child support enforcement headed by a deputy commissioner, and such other administrative units as may be established in or assigned to said division from time to time by the commissioner. Said deputy commissioner shall be appointed by the commissioner with the approval of the secretary of administration, and may be removed in like manner, shall be a person of ability and experience and shall devote his entire time to the duties of his office. Said position shall not be subject to the provisions of chapter thirty-one or section nine A of chapter thirty. Said division shall be a separate administrative unit within the department, operating independent of and apart from the operational state and local tax or finance units therein. Said division shall be provided with such resources as may be necessary to implement the provisions of chapter one hundred and nineteen A.
The commissioner may appoint and remove such additional assistants, technical consultants, contractors and other persons, may engage such other technical, contractual and other assistants as the work of said division may, from time to time, require and may develop and maintain a data processing installation exclusively for the automated collection, disbursement and data systems of said division.
SECTION 2. Subsection (b) of section 21 of chapter 62C of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding the following paragraph:-
(13) the disclosure of information to the IV-D agency, as set forth in chapter one hundred and nineteen A, for the purpose of locating or identifying absent parents who are legally obligated to pay support to such agency and evaluating their ability to pay support.
SECTION 3. Chapter 62D of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out section 11, as so appearing, and inserting in place thereof the following section:-
Section 11. The commissioner of the department shall promulgate rules and regulations and establish proper forms necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter. The commissioner shall, by regulation, set forth the priority of set-offs in the event that there are multiple claims to be applied against any refund.
SECTION 4. Chapter 62E of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out section 1, as so appearing, and inserting in place thereof the following section:-
Section 1. The following words as used in this chapter shall, unless the context otherwise requires, have the following meanings:-
"Absent parent", any person who is legally obligated by court order or otherwise to support his spouse or children and who is obligated to pay such support to the IV-D agency.
"Bureau of special investigations", the bureau of special investigations established pursuant to section thirty R of chapter seven.
"Commissioner", the commissioner of revenue.
"Employer", employer as defined in section thirty-four hundred and one (d) of the Internal Revenue Code.
"Employee", employee as defined in section thirty-four hundred and one (c) of the Internal Revenue Code.
"Internal Revenue Code or Code", the Internal Revenue Code of the United States, as amended to and including October four, nineteen hundred and eighty-two and in effect for the applicable period.
"IV-D agency", the agency designated pursuant to Title IV Part D of the Social Security Act to provide comparable services to children and families to establish and enforce child support obligations under the provisions of chapter one hundred and nineteen A.
"Wages", wages as defined in section thirty-four hundred and one (a) of the Internal Revenue Code.
SECTION 5. Section 3 of said chapter 62E, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out, in lines 9 and 10, the words "department of public welfare" and inserting in place thereof the following words:- IV-D agency.
SECTION 6. Section 4 of said chapter 62E, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out the fourth paragraph and inserting in place thereof the following paragraph:-
Upon written request of and at a date specified by the commissioner, the IV-D agency shall provide to the commissioner lists of absent parents who owe support to said agency for the purpose of identifying absent parents who have earned income so as to locate such absent parents and evaluate their ability to pay support for their families. Information in such lists shall include the absent parent's name, social security number and other data to assure positive identification.
SECTION 7. Section 6 of said chapter 62E, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out, in lines 2 and 3, the words "or the department of veterans' services" and inserting in place thereof the following words:- , the department of veterans' services and the IV-D agency.
SECTION 8. Said section 6 of said chapter 62E, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out, in line 13 and in lines 15 and 16, the words "department of public welfare" and inserting in place thereof, in each instance, the following words:- IV-D agency.
SECTION 9. Said chapter 62E is hereby amended by inserting after section 7, as so appearing, the following section:-
Section 7A. The commissioner may utilize the wage reporting data compiled by the department from the quarterly reports filed by employers in the administration of taxes, as defined in sections one and two of chapter sixty-two C, including proceedings and other activities, to determine or collect said taxes or criminal prosecution under chapters sixty A, sixty-two and sixty-five C, section ten of chapter one hundred and twenty-one A and section twenty-one of chapter one hundred and thirty-eight.
SECTION 10. Said chapter 62E is hereby further amended by adding the following two sections:-
Section 11. The commissioner, in cooperation with the IV-D agency, shall establish a program of wage information sharing with other states. The commissioner is hereby authorized to enter into reciprocal agreements with other states to share lists of absent parents who owe support payments to the IV-D agency. Such reciprocal agreements shall only be made with states which administer programs that are substantially similar to the wage reporting system. The wage information sharing program shall apply only to states which have similar prohibitions and penalties for disclosure of information as provided in this chapter and only if such prohibitions and penalties apply to information which is transmitted by the commissioner or the IV-D agency to the other states. The prohibitions and penalties imposed by said section forty-three of said chapter two hundred and seventy-one shall also apply to any such information received from any other state under a reciprocal agreement.
Section 12. Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions, nothing herein shall be construed to prevent the release by the commissioner, pursuant to the terms of federally-mandated wage match programs, of wage information data to the United States Social Security Administration or to agencies of other states who administer federally-funded welfare and unemployment compensation programs.
SECTION 11. Section 51 of chapter 93 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 1986 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking out, in line 23, the word "services." and inserting in place thereof the following:- services; or
(f) intends to use the information for the enforcement of child support orders under chapter one hundred and nineteen A.
SECTION 12. The first paragraph of section 52A of said chapter 93, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out the last sentence.
SECTION 13. Section 1 of chapter 119A of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting before the first paragraph the following paragraph:-
It is the public policy of the commonwealth that dependent children shall be maintained, as completely as possible, from the resources of their parents, thereby relieving or avoiding, at least in part, the burden borne by the citizens of the commonwealth. The existing remedies pertaining to the support of dependent children are to be augmented by the additional remedies provided in this chapter so as to establish a comprehensive and effective child support enforcement program through expedited processes for obtaining and enforcing support orders and establishing paternity. This chapter shall be liberally construed to effectuate the policy stated herein.
SECTION 14. Section 2 of said chapter 119A, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding the following paragraph:-
In carrying out said responsibilities, the IV-D agency may expend such funds as may be necessary for public information, including paid advertisements, and outreach programs to advise the public of the services available through such agency to establish or enforce orders of child support.
SECTION 15. Said chapter 119A is hereby amended by striking out section 6, as so appearing, and inserting in place thereof the following section:-
(a) The IV-D agency, in accordance with Title IV, Part D of the Social Security Act, is hereby authorized to institute collection procedures for all arrearages which have accrued against child support payments owed pursuant to a court judgment or support order, or an order from a IV-D agency of competent jurisdiction. These collection procedures shall include, but not be limited to, notification of employers that a wage assignment is in effect and not suspended; notification of obligors; demand letters; use of state and federal tax refund intercept programs; initiation of contempt proceedings; use of lien, levy and seizure as provided in subsection (b); use of the services of any person providing collection services to the commissioner of revenue for the collection of state taxes; seeking capias in appropriate situations; attachment of or lien against property, trustee process in accordance with chapter two hundred and forty-six; civil actions to reach and apply; and any other civil remedy available for the enforcement of judgments or for the enforcement of support or custody orders entered under chapter two hundred and eight, two hundred and nine, two hundred and nine C or two hundred and seventy-three A. The IV-D agency may provide by regulation for the assessment of interest and penalties against delinquent obligations under the provisions of paragraph (1) subsection (b).
(b) Upon determination by the IV-D agency of the amount of an arrearage which has accrued against child support payments owed pursuant to an order or judgment of a court or IV-D agency of competent jurisdiction, the IV-D agency shall, after notice, opportunity for administrative review, and demand, if no suspended wage order applies pursuant to section twelve, have the power to collect the delinquent support so determined together with any interest due thereon, through the use of lien, levy and seizure, as provided in paragraphs (1) to (7), inclusive.
(1) An order or judgment for child support which is unpaid in whole or in part shall be eligible to be assessed as delinquent as of the date on which it was originally due whether weekly, monthly or on any other periodic basis. If the IV-D agency determines that child support is unpaid, it may at any time after such child support payment was due assess the same, by sending written notice to the obligor of its intent to make a determination of delinquent child support by first class mail thirty days in advance of the date on which such determination will be made. The notice shall specify the amounts unpaid, the dates on which such amounts were due and the obligor's right to request an administrative review to dispute the amount claimed by the IV-D agency to be delinquent by filing a written request with the IV-D agency before the expiration of the thirty day notice period.
If the obligor does not request an administrative review, the IV-D agency shall determine the amount of child support which is delinquent by review of its records. The amount so determined shall constitute an assessment and shall accrue interest from the date of such assessment. An obligor assessed pursuant to this section shall have thirty days within which to pay the assessment and interest.
If the obligor requests an administrative review, the IV-D agency shall schedule and conduct the review expeditiously and shall determine the amount of child support which is delinquent. The amount so determined shall constitute an assessment and shall accrue interest from the date of such assessment. An obligor assessed pursuant to this section shall have thirty days within which to pay the assessment and interest. After review, if the obligor has grounds to modify the amount of child support arrears based on a substantial change of circumstances, he may seek a modification in the court or agency which originally entered the child support order. If such an obligor files a petition or complaint for modification on such grounds within thirty days of the IV-D agency's assessment of child support arrears and so notifies the IV-D agency, the procedures for lien, levy and seizure shall be stayed pending a decision of the court or IV-D agency on the modification request.
(2) If any child support obligor neglects or refuses to pay the sum assessed after demand as provided in subparagraph (1) within thirty days, the amount, including any interest, together with any costs that may accrue in addition thereto, shall be a lien in favor of the commonwealth or the individual to whom the IV-D agency is providing services, as the case may be, upon all property and rights to property, whether real or personal, belonging to such person. The lien shall arise at the time the assessment is made or deemed to be made and shall continue until the liability for the amount assessed or deemed to be assessed is satisfied. Said lien shall in any event terminate not later than six years from the date it was created.
Said lien shall not be valid as against any mortgagee, pledgee, purchaser of judgment creditor until notice thereof has been filed by the IV-D agency (1) with respect to real property or fixtures, in the registry of deeds of the county where such property is situated, and, (2) with respect to personal property, in the office in which a security or financing statement or notice with respect to the property would be filed in order to perfect a mortgage or comparable nonpossessory security interest in tangible personal property belonging to the person named in the relevant notice. The filing of a notice of any such lien or of a waiver or release of any such lien shall be received and registered or recorded without payment of any fee.
Even though notice of a lien as provided in this section has been filed in the manner prescribed, the lien shall not be valid with respect to a security, as hereinafter defined, as against any mortgagee, pledgee or purchaser of such security, for an adequate and full consideration in money or money's worth, if, at the time of such mortgage, pledge or purchase, such mortgagee, pledgee, or purchaser is without notice or knowledge of the existence of such lien. As used in this subparagraph, the term "security" means any bond, debenture, note or certificate or other evidence of indebtedness issued by any corporation, including one issued by a governmental or political subdivision thereof, with interest coupons or in registered form, share of stock, voting trust certificate, or any certificate of interest or participation in certificate of deposit or receipt for, temporary or interim certificate for, warrant or right to subscribe to or purchase, any of the foregoing; any negotiable instrument; or money.
The IV-D agency may provide by regulation, where notice of a lien has been filed, the extent to which, and the conditions under which, information as to the amount of the outstanding obligation secured by such lien may be disclosed.
The IV-D agency may issue a waiver or release of any lien imposed by this section. Such waiver or release shall be conclusive evidence that the lien upon the property covered by the waiver or release is extinguished.
(3) If any child support obligor, assessed pursuant to subparagraphs (1) and (2), neglects or refuses to pay the sum assessed within ten days after the expiration of the thirty-day period provided therein, the IV-D agency may collect such unpaid child support and such further sum as shall be sufficient to cover the expenses of the levy, by levy upon all property or rights to property as provided in this subsection. If the IV-D agency makes a finding that collection is in jeopardy, notice and demand for immediate payment may be made and, upon failure or refusal to pay such unpaid child support, collection thereof by levy may be made without regard to the ten-day period. The term "levy" as used herein includes the power of distraint and seizure by any means. A levy shall extend only to property possessed and obligations existing at the time thereof. Property specified in subsection (a) of section fifty-five A of chapter sixty-two C, other than paragraph (4), shall be exempt from levy hereunder. In any case in which the IV-D agency may levy upon property or rights to property, it may seize and sell such property or rights to property, whether real or personal, tangible or intangible.
Except as otherwise provided in this subparagraph, any person in possession of, or obligated with respect to, property or rights to property subject to levy upon which a levy has been made shall, upon demand of the IV-D agency, surrender such property or rights, or discharge such obligation, to the IV-D agency, except such part of the property or rights as is, at the time of such demand, subject to an attachment or execution under any judicial process. A levy on an organization with respect to a life insurance or endowment contract issued by such organization shall, without necessity for the surrender of the contract document, constitute a demand by the IV-D agency for payment of the amount described in paragraph (1) and the exercise of the right of the person against whom the tax is assessed to the advance of such amount. Such organization shall pay such amount ninety days after service of notice of levy. Such notice shall include a certification by the IV-D agency that a copy of such notice has been mailed to the person against whom a child support lien is assessed at his last known address. Such levy shall be deemed to be satisfied if such organization pays over to the IV-D agency the amount which the person against whom a child support lien is assessed could have had advanced to him by such organization on the date prescribed herein for the satisfaction of such levy, increased by the amount of any advance, including contractual interest, thereon, made to such person on or after the date such organization had actual notice or knowledge.
Whenever any property or right to property upon which levy has been made is not sufficient to satisfy the claim of the commonwealth for which levy is made, the IV-D agency may, thereafter, and as often as may be necessary, proceed to levy in like manner upon any other property liable to levy of the person against whom such claim exists, until the amount due from him, together with all expenses, is fully paid.
(4) Any person who fails or refuses to surrender any property or rights to property, subject to levy, upon demand by the IV-D agency, shall be liable in his own person and estate to the commonwealth in a sum equal to the value of the property or rights not so surrendered but not exceeding the amount of child support for the collection of which such levy has been made, together with costs and interests on such sum at the rate of eight per cent per annum from the date of such levy. Any amount, other than costs, recovered under this paragraph shall be credited against the child support liability for the collection of which such levy was made.
In addition, if any person required to surrender property or rights to property fails or refuses to surrender such property or rights to property without reasonable cause, such person shall be liable for a penalty equal to twenty-five per cent of the amount recoverable. No part of such penalty shall be credited against the child support liability for the collection of which such levy was made.
(5) Any person in possession of, or obligated with respect to, property or rights to property subject to levy upon which a levy has been made, who upon demand by the IV-D agency, surrenders such property or rights to property, or discharges such obligation, to the IV-D agency, or who pays a liability under paragraph (4) shall be discharged from any obligation or liability to the delinquent child support obligor with respect to such property or rights to property arising from such surrender or payment. In the case of a levy on an organization with respect to a life insurance or endowment contract, which is satisfied pursuant to this section, such organization shall also be discharged from any obligation or liability to any beneficiary arising from such surrender or payment.
(6) In any case where there has been a refusal or neglect to pay any child support assessed pursuant to paragraph (1), or to discharge any liability in respect thereof, whether or not levy has been made, the IV-D agency, in addition to other modes of relief, may file a civil action in the department of the trial court which originally entered the order for child support to enforce the lien under this section with respect to such unpaid child support or to subject any property, of whatever nature, of the delinquent, or in which he has any right, title or interest, to the payment of such unpaid child support.
(7) At the time of any lien, levy or seizure of any property or rights to property, real or personal, belonging to a delinquent child support obligor, the IV-D agency shall send written notice to the obligor by first-class mail of the action taken which shall specify the amount due, and the steps to be followed to release the property so levied, seized or placed under lien. Such notice shall include the name and address of the court which entered the child support order and shall notify the obligor of his right to petition that court for review of the amount assessed as delinquent by the IV-D agency.
SECTION 16. Section 10 of said chapter 119A, as so appearing, is hereby amended by striking out clause (1) and inserting in place thereof the following clause:-
(1) A child support payments account of amounts to be distributed, without appropriation, to the proper obligees.
SECTION 17. Subsection (b) of section 12 of said chapter 119A, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the first sentence the following sentence:- Such judgment or order shall include the name, address and social security number of the obligor, if known; and the name, address and federal employer identification number of the obligor employer; and such other information as the IV-D agency requires to assist it in collecting support payments.
SECTION 18. Subsection (i) of said section 12, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out the last sentence.
SECTION 19. Said section 12, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding the following subsection:-
(j) obligations may also be enforced in accordance with the provisions of section six.