Life happens. It’s easy to fall behind on bills in the wake of illness, divorce, job loss or other major life event.
When all other debt collection efforts fail, creditors and county agencies may resort to wage garnishment to recover the amount of money owed.
First, some wage garnishments basics:
“Wage garnishment” is essentially a court order stating the court’s intent to withhold a portion of your earnings until the debt is paid. For most people, that can mean student loan payments, child support, medical debt or taxes.
Your wages will be garnished until the debt is paid off.
Wage garnishment is not a done deal. You have legal rights, including a cap on the percentage that is withheld to pay off a debt.
Two Types Of Garnishments
There are two types of wage garnishments
Wage garnishment: A percentage of your wages are withheld from your paycheck by court order until a debt is paid off.
Non-wage garnishment or bank levy: Creditors can access your bank account to recover money owed to them. Bank levies can occur when a creditor sues you in court and wins.
You won’t be blindsided in either case. The court will notify you in writing of the intent to garnish your wages. The IRS will issue a Notice of Intent to Levy. Depending on state and local laws, and the creditor, the garnishment takes place within five to 30 business days.
How Much Can Be Garnished From My Pay?
Federal laws limit the percentage of disposable income (money left over after necessary deductions such as taxes and Social Security).
Child support and alimony: Up to 50% of your disposable income can be garnished if you are supporting a spouse or other child. Otherwise, the federal limit is 60%
Federal student loans: 15%
Credit cards, medical debt, personal loans and other consumer debt: either 25% of your disposable income or the amount by which your weekly income exceeds the federal minimum wage, whichever is less.
Taxes In most cases up to 15% of your disposable income. The IRS will determine the final amount depending on your tax filing status and number of dependents you claim on your annual return.
What Happens With A Wage Garnishment?
The court will send notices to you, your employer, and bank (in the case of bank levy). Garnishment will begin within five to 30 business days so you need to act quickly.
Your Rights Concerning A Garnishment
- You won’t be blindsided. The court must notify you in writing of the intent to garnish your wages (also known as Notice of Intent to Levy in the case of back taxes). Depending on state and local laws, and the creditor the garnishment takes place within five to 30 business days.
- While you can’t be fired from your job if you have a wage garnishment, this protection could expire if you have more than one garnishment.
- You have the right to legally challenge the garnishment if you believe it will cause undue financial hardship.
- You have the right to file a dispute if the garnishment notice is inaccurate or if you believe you do not owe the debt.
- Social Security and VA benefits can’t be garnished, but they are vulnerable to levy once they reach your bank account.
Steps to Take When You Receive A Garnishment Notice
- First, carefully read the judgment to verify that all of the information is accurate. Make sure that you haven’t already paid this debt and verify that it is in fact your debt.
- Review the notice to make sure all information is accurate.
- If you haven’t done so already, consult with a consumer attorney or a tax attorney in the case of a garnishment or bank levy for past due taxes.
Facing wage garnishment or bank levy for back taxes isn’t a rare as you might think. If you’re among the unlucky consumers facing a wage garnishment or bank levy, you must take action quickly.
If you are facing a bank levy for unpaid taxes, our team can help you formulate a plan of action. Don’t wait. If you’re facing a bank levy or garnishment for unpaid taxes, contact us today. Don’t go it alone. We can help.