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Wage Garnishment: Understanding Your Rights

THERE ARE LIMITS FOR CREDITORS

Unless you owe child support, back taxes, or student loans, your creditors — those to whom you owe money — cannot garnish your wages unless they first get a court order. For example, if you have defaulted on a loan, stopped paying your credit card bill, or have run up huge medical bills, your creditors can’t just start garnishing your wages. They must first sue you, win, and get a court order requiring you to pay what you owe.

WAGE GARNISHMENTS FOR BACK TAXES

Federal law places limits on how much judgment creditors can take from your paycheck. The amount that can be garnished is limited to 25% of your disposable earnings (what’s left after mandatory deductions) or the amount by which your weekly wages exceed 30 times the minimum wage, whichever is lower. Some states set a lower percentage limit for how much of your wages can be garnished.

If you owe money to the IRS, watch out: The agency can take a big chunk of your wages, and it doesn’t have to get a court order first. The amount you get to keep depends on how many dependents you have and your standard deduction amount. Your employer will pay you a fairly low minimum amount each week and give the rest to the IRS.

The IRS must send a wage levy notice to your employer, who is required to give you a copy. The notice includes an exemption claim form, which you should complete and return.

Fill out the form to the right to access this FREE report on what to do if your wage are being garnished.

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