I’ve just accepted a job offer to work for a DOE contractor and will soon be starting the process to get a security clearance. This will be my first time through the security clearance process. I have an item in my financial history that I can’t figure out how to handle.
My wife brought a defaulted student loan debt into our marriage. I knew about the debt before we got married, but did not know the debt had fallen into delinquency.
Upon filing our first tax return as a married couple, we discovered the debt had been turned over to the IRS and our tax refund was seized (this is officially called a tax refund offset, I believe) to pay down the debt. After discussing the issue with my wife, we decided to let the IRS continue to seize our refunds each year until the debt was paid. In total, four refunds were seized in full or in part, with the debt being paid off in Mar 2017.
Do I need to disclose this information during the security clearance application process? The debt is solely in my wife’s name and was created before we married, which makes me think I can omit this (based upon my googling of this issue so far). However, my name is on the tax refunds that were seized to pay off the debt. I’m worried this might be discovered during a background check and I do not want to appear as though I was trying to hide it.
I’m leaning towards mentioning the issue in the application just to avoid any appearance of covering it up, but I also don’t want to create any unnecessary reason for deeper scrutiny. Any better informed opinions on this issue would be greatly appreciated.