The California Reparations Task Force is asking the Democrat-controlled state legislature to eliminate interest on past-due child support, as well as any back child support debt for Black residents of the state.
In its final report released last week, the group claimed “discriminatory” laws “have torn African American families apart,” and that one effect of that is the “harms” caused by “the disproportionate amount of African Americans who are burdened with child support debt.”
The nearly 1,100-page document stated that Black Californians represent a larger percentage of those who owe child support debt than their proportion of the state’s population.
It also claimed the 10% interest the state charges on back child support “hinders” their ability to finance further education, attend job training, find employment and maintain housing because of the legal consequences of not paying such debt.
The report cited a 2003 California Department of Child Support Services study that estimated 27% of owed child support in the state was unpaid interest, that those who owed child support had lower incomes than “the typical California worker” and that such interest required a larger portion of their income to actually pay the debt.
“The Task Force recommends that the Legislature enact legislation to terminate all interest accrued on back child support, requiring only the payment of the principal owed. At a minimum, the proposal recommends that the Legislature eliminate the prospective accrual of interest on child support debt for low-income parents,” the report said.
“The Task Force further recommends that the Legislature amend Family Code section 17560, the ‘offers in compromise’ provision, to allow for offers in compromise and forgiveness of child support debt based solely on a parent’s fnancial (sic) circumstances and ability to pay,” it added.
The report is a culmination of two years of research done by the task force into what it says is the historical discrimination faced by Black Californians and their ancestors in the state.
It also offers a broad account of the ways it accuses the state of wronging descendants of Black slaves.
The state legislature will now determine what aspects of the report, including monetary compensation for Black residents, it will approve or deny.