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What Is an Electronic Income Withholding Order?

 

A child support income withholding order (IWO) is a mandatory document requiring a noncustodial parent's employer to withhold child support payments from their wages. The IWO provides the employer with instructions for administering the order — including directions on how to verify whether the IWO is valid and the steps for calculating, withholding and remitting child support payments.

In the past, states depended on manual methods such as certified mail or restricted electronic systems such as fax to send IWOs to employers.

To accelerate IWO processing, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) has implemented a web portal for states and employers to use. IWOs processed through this online system are called "electronic income withholding orders," or e-IWOs.

With e-IWOs, the state child support agency sends income withholding orders directly to employers through the portal, which is hosted by the federal OCSE.

Advantages of e-IWOs

  • Speeds up delivery of IWOs to employers. Per the federal OCSE, "Employers receive their e-IWOs the day after the state child support agency generates them."
  • Makes processing more efficient. After determining whether the IWO is valid, the employer can accept or reject the IWO through the portal, based on their assessment.
  • Enables quick communication between states and employers. If the noncustodial parent no longer works for the company, the employer can promptly notify the state through the portal.
  • Eliminates postage and administrative expenses associated with manual IWOs.
  • Reduces the risks of mistakes caused by manual processing.
  • Improves the reliability of IWO data.
  • Gets child support payments to families faster.

State Adoption

According to the federal OCSE website, every state is now using e-IWOs, and the only U.S. territory that's not using them is the Virgin Islands.

How to use the e-IWO portal

Employers will need to register with the e-IWO team by contacting them at the email address listed on the federal OCSE website.

The OCSE offers two ways to implement e-IWOs:

  1. The System-to-System Interface, which is recommended for medium to large businesses with adequate IT resources. The interface securely routes files from the state's servers to employers in a format of the state's choosing. This option is best for employers that receive IWOs frequently. The estimated implementation timeframe is three to five months. For details on the System-to-System Interface, review the OCSE's Software Interface Specification for States and Employers.
  2. The No-Programming Option, which is recommended for smaller employers with limited IT resources. This option is best for employers that hardly receive IWOs. It allows employers to receive e-IWOs as a PDF and takes around two to four weeks to implement. For more information, review the OCSE's No-Programming Option for Employers.

Employers do not have to pay any fees to use the portal.

Considerations

You can simplify child support income withholding by utilizing payroll technology that enables e-IWOs. Alternatively, you can outsource payroll to a service provider who will process them on your behalf.

 
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