The parties agreed to the amount of Aaron’s child support payments at the time of the divorce. The figure was calculated at 28% of his net income. Alicia then petitioned to increase Aaron’s child support payments due to increases in his income. The parties again agreed to an increased payment amount based on Aaron’s 2014 net income. Alicia soon filed again, and immediately sought 28% of Aaron’s 2014 federal income tax refund. The record showed that Aaron intentionally over-withheld taxes each year and received a large tax refund. The trial court denied Alicia’s request. She appealed. She lost.
The relevant question is whether Aaron’s child support payment was calculated properly based on his actual net income. It was not a question of whether Aaron’s withholding on his paycheck was correct. The Court said that it did not need to answer the question. The trial court did not make the calculation that Alicia is complaining about. The parties did. Aaron and Alicia agreed to Aaron’s child support obligation in open court. This was after the close of discovery while Alicia had Aaron’s 2014 W-2 and 2014 federal income tax return. If the agreed amount of Aaron’s child support obligation is not 28% of his 2014 net income, the parties are at fault. The trial court is not at fault. Even if we believed that there was an error, Alicia cannot complain of error which she injected into the case. If Aaron’s net income did not adjust for the over-withholding, that was Alicia’s error, not the court’s.
Aaron’s federal income tax refund for 2014 was part of his net income for 2014—not an addition to it. A payor’s federal income tax refund is not always income for child support purposes. Aaron intentionally withheld income from his paycheck, paying every pay period more than he would eventually owe in taxes. This is no different than placing the same amount of money in a savings account that earns no interest or burying it in his backyard. In the absence of fraud, Alicia is not entitled to any percentage of Aaron’s federal income tax return.
In re Marriage of Eastburg, 2016 IL App (3d) 150710.
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