Alex Patterson needed her $3,063 tax refund to secure a studio apartment for her daughter and herself after a month of living in a car.

The federal government had other ideas.

As CNBC reports, the U.S. Treasury Department seized Patterson's tax refund to cover her delinquent student loan debt.

"The IRS seizing 3 grand from me prevented us from moving forward as planned," Patterson said on a fundraiser started on Facebook. "I had nowhere except my car to sleep but choose to stay near Phe." (That's a nickname for her daughter, Ophelia.)

The federal government can take tax refunds to cover delinquent student loan debts from many low-income Americans who fall behind on payments.

Patterson, a single mother, had been hoping to stay in the studio apartment with her 11-year-old daughter, Ophelia. She is trying to get her refund back, but because she is already homeless and not on the brink of an eviction or foreclosure, she likely will not qualify, CNBC reported.