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Division of Child Support

Employer Information about Income Withholding

I have received an Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support (an "OWI") from DCS. What should I do?

  • Begin withholding immediately from any funds payable to the employee (also called the "obligor parent").
  • Complete the Answer to the OWI and return it to DCS within 20 days.
  • Continue withholding until DCS releases the notice in writing or you are ordered to stop by a court.
  • Send payment to the Washington State Support Registry (WSSR) within seven days of when you withheld from the employee's check.
  • If you fail to withhold under the OWI, you may have to pay the amounts that should have withheld.

I got a withholding notice for someone who never worked here. What should I do?

If DCS sends you an Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support ( "OWI") for someone who never worked for you, please don't just ignore it. The OWI includes an Answer form: check box #2, "We do not employ or owe money to the parent."

I got a withholding notice for someone who doesn't work here anymore. What should I do?

  • If DCS sends you an Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support ( "OWI") for someone who used to work for you, check box #2 on the Answer form: "We do not employ or owe money to the parent." Please provide further information requested by the form, such as dates you employed this person, if you plan to rehire, is there a pending L&I claim, and where they are working now (if you know).
  • If you're expecting the employee to come back soon, please keep the OWI on file and start withholding when you can.

How do I compute the amount to withhold each payday?

The Income Withholding for Support tells you how much to withhold each month.

  • If you pay once a month, withhold that amount (unless it's more than 50% of the employee's net disposable income) from each paycheck
  • If you pay more than once a month, here's how to calculate the amount from each check: for each month, divide the monthly withhold amount by the number of paychecks for that month, then withhold that much from each check.
  • If the OWI asks you to withhold a certain percentage of the employee's earnings, withhold that percentage amount each payday.

How much of the employee's pay is subject to withholding?

Child support withholding may not exceed fifty percent (50%) of the employee's net disposable income.

"Disposable income" means gross earnings minus mandatory deductions, that is, those amounts required by law to be withheld, such as taxes.

How do I calculate the employee's net disposable income?

  • Compute the gross amount that you owe to the employee for the pay period.
  • If the employee took any advances, add those amounts back in.
  • Deduct the amounts that are required by law, such as IRS income taxes, FICA, Social Security and L&I. If union membership or pension contribution is mandatory, deduct union dues and/or pension amounts.
  • Do not deduct such amounts as car Payments
    , non-mandatory union dues, or voluntary savings deposits.
  • The amount remaining is the employee's net disposable income. Now divide that amount by two, and that's the amount that is subject to withholding.
  • After withholding the child support amount, go on and deduct any other amounts that you normally deduct from the employee's paycheck. These "voluntary deductions" are not subject to the 50% limit.

What if the amount I'm supposed to withhold is more than 50% of the employee's net disposable income?

  • You can't give DCS more than 50% of the employee's net disposable income each payday.
  • If the withhold amount exceeds 50%, just send in 50%.
  • If this is the first time you are withholding from this employee, use the Answer to the OWI to tell DCS that you can't withhold the full amount of the OWI this payday.
  • Remember, the OWI gives you a monthly amount to withhold. Once you reach that amount, you can stop withholding for the month.

How do I send in my payment?

DCS offers several different payment options, so pick the one that works the best for you.

  • You can send in a check to the Washington State Support Registry (WSSR). If you are withholding child support for more than one employee, you can combine all the Payments
    into one check, as long as you let us know how much you withheld from each employee.
  • You can make Payments
    over the Internet using the DCS Child Support Internet Payment Service (CSIPS). Go to that web site for a demonstration.
  • You can sign up for Electronic Funds Transfer/Electronic Data Interchange. By using Electronic Funds Transfer/Electronic Data Interchange (EFT/EDI), you can reduce your paperwork, handling costs, and bank charges when sending child support withholding Payments
    to the Division of Child Support (DCS). EFT/EDI can also reduce the amount of time your staff spends responding to inquiries from DCS about Payments
    . DCS offers a variety of EFT/EDI options:
  • Repetitive Automated Clearing House (ACH) debit
  • Pay by phone ACH debit
  • PC Modem ACH debit
  • ACH Credit with addenda
  • (NOTE: DCS will accept records in CCD+ or CTX format. Your bank can inform you if these options are available for your business.)

For more information, please review the informational letter about EFT options or call us at 1-800-468-7422.

If you would like to initiate Electronic Funds Transfer with DCS, download the following form:

Employer Authorization Agreement For Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) Of Division of Child Support Payments

What kind of information should I include with the payment?

  • If you are paying by Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) or using the Child Support Internet Payment System (CSIPS), follow the directions for that program.
  • If you are sending in a check, please give us the following information for each employee covered by your payment:
  • Employee name
  • Employee SSN or account number (listed on the OWI)
  • Payroll date
  • Total amount withheld from this employee's check
  • The OWI packet includes a form called "Employer Payment Identification Instructions." You can photocopy that and use it for future Payments
    , or you can download the form here

Are there any special withholding rules when there's also a medical support obligation?

  • Yes
  • Please click here to go to the Medical Support section.

How do I let DCS know if the employee no longer works here?

There are several ways to let us know:

  • You can contact DCS by email
  • Call the Field Office
  • Call the DCS Employer Hotline at 1-800-591-2760
  • Print and fill out a copy of this form and mail it to: DCS, PO Box 11520, Tacoma WA 98411-5520
  • NOTE: please tell us the employee's home address, the last date employed by you, and new employer, if known.

How long does an OWI last?

  • An Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support ( "OWI") remains in effect until DCS releases it in writing.
  • Keep the OWI until both of the following happen:
  • The employee no longer works for you. Consider an intermittent employee still employed.
  • You no longer possess any funds payable to the employee.

The employee told me that he'd worked everything out with DCS and that I didn't need to withhold anymore. Can I stop withholding?

No matter what your employee may tell you, do not stop withholding under an Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support (OWI) until DCS releases the OWI in writing.

I feel sorry for my employee and want to intercede with DCS. Can I do this?

DCS is governed by strict confidentiality rules. We have disclosed to you that your employee owes child support for the sole purpose of getting you to withhold from the employee's paycheck. We can't discuss any other details of the employee's case with you without the employee's written authorization. Click here to download a form your employee can sign giving DCS permission to share case information with you.

What should I do if I receive a child support withholding order from another state?

  • Honor another state's withholding order (make sure you submit Payments
    to the right place!)
  • Washington law regarding the 50% limitation applies even to other state's withholding orders
  • If you receive an OWI from DCS and another state for the same employee, You must honor both orders, equally. If there is insufficient income to pay all of the current support and arrears that are requested, please contact DCS for assistance in calculating the amount to send to each state.

What Employers Should Know When Working With Tribes

See the following resources:

What if I am a Tribal Employer?

Indian Tribes have sovereign immunity from lawsuits and garnishment actions. If you receive a child support Income Withholding notice, and you are an Indian tribe, tribally-owned enterprise, or Indian-owned business located on a reservation or trust land, contact your Tribe to determine how to respond. Some Indian tribes voluntarily honor Income Withholding notices under a cooperative agreement or an informal process with the Division of Child Support (DCS). Other Tribes have their own child support laws, policies and/or programs.

For more information, see the DCS Tribal Relations Internet Site or you may contact a DCS Tribal Liaison.