RICHMOND, OCT. 9 -- Virginia parents who are delinquent in making child support payments may find their federal tax refunds diverted for that purpose next spring.

The names of 58,906 parents who are behind in making payments have been sent to the Internal Revenue Service, according to Henry W. Wiggins, the state's new director of the child support division.

The IRS will notify the taxpayers that the state has placed liens on their returns, and give them a chance to protest the finding or correct mistakes.

Once it has been determined that the money is owed, said Ray C. Goodwin, the state's acting social services director, the IRS will deduct the amount from any refund and send a check to the state. Taxpayers who are not due a refund still face having their current address being given to the state agency, Goodwin said.

"This tax-intercept action is part of an aggressive enforcement plan," said Human Resources Secretary Eva S. Teig, who said the program "also is a welfare prevention program," because many of the beneficiaries will be poor, young mothers.

"It's a national problem," Teig said. "There is $3 billion out there" in unpaid support payments.

The program was made possible by the summer employment of 220 college students, who culled support records for 90 days, Wiggins said. He predicted that the project would pay off with the collection of more than $10 million in back payments.

About 40 percent of the money will be forwarded to custodial parents, and 60 percent will be retained by state and federal agencies as reimbursement of payments made through aid-to-dependent-children cases, Wiggins said.

Historically, Wiggins said, a state's ability to recover court-ordered support payments is hindered by parents who run away, change their names or otherwise avoid their responsibilities. About 30 percent of Virginia's delinquent parents live out of state, Wiggins said.