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Custodial parents who are owed back child support may be able to intercept the non-custodial parent's income tax refund, but they'll have to hurry to start the paperwork.

The Family Support Administration's deadline for filing for the Internal Revenue Service's tax refund offset program is Sept. 27."The time for filing an application to request the IRS to check if an absent parent is owed a tax refund for 1988 earnings is now," said Guadalupe Salinas, regional administrator. "If a refund is owed the absent parent, and child support is owed to his children, it will be rerouted to them."

States have traditionally filed tax refund intercepts to recover money owed to families who receive public assistance. But in 1984, Congress passed some tough rules aimed at forcing all non-custodial parents to honor their child support obligations.

"Frankly, Congress was sick and tired that billions of dollars owed by absent parents to their children are not being paid every year and the public is stuck with the bill. Many women apply for public assistance after the father leaves," Salinas said.

"Most women who aren't on assistance don't know that we can help," said Ed LaPedis of the administration office in Denver. "But we can often help non-assistance families, too."

To receive the help, a custodial parent must complete an application, pay a small fee and show a legal support order that is at least $500 in arrears for non-public assistance cases. The applications are available through the Bureau of Child Support Services, 150 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84103.