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How to Stop Wage Garnishments?

Updated on November 3, 2014

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How To stop wage garnishments

Of the many issues – some complicated, some simple – related to taxes, wage garnishments are perhaps the most frustrating. Who likes the idea of having money taking out of their paycheck without their permission? No one – but of course, the government has the authority to do that if taxes are owed.

Wage garnishments sound like something that would be highly illegal, but such a procedure is within the law as established by the federal government in the United States. Fortunately, there are ways to get out from under these garnishments. This article will discuss how to stop wage garnishments and keep the money in your bank account.

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What Does It Mean to Stop Wage Garnishments?

To garnish something is to withhold it to pay off a debt. So, wage garnishments basically mean that money is being withheld from someone’s paycheck because they owe a debt to a third party – in many cases, this is the government. The Federal and State Government both have the power to garnish wages in the event that someone does not pay the full amount of taxes that they are owed – either for income tax, property tax, or any other kind of tax. It can also be done through a court for other debts, such as child support payments.

A wage garnishment is filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the employer of the employee in question. The money owed is then taken out of the employee’s paycheck, usually over a fixed period of time. That means your money is gone before you even see it. In the U.S., this amount is limited to one-fourth (25%) of an employee’s disposable income.

This process continues under the debt is repaid.


How to Stop Wage Garnishments: Getting Free

As with any tax-related complication or issue, it is important that a person find qualified legal assistance with a tax attorney. A tax attorney can help you with any tax-related issue, especially in sometimes-difficult negotiations with federal and state agencies like the IRS and state revenue services. There are plenty of attorneys that are experienced with dealing with wage garnishments, since they are a common type of levy put on someone’s property and wages by the IRS.

The first way to get rid of a wage garnishment is to pay off the debt. You can either pay it in full if you are just behind on your taxes, or you can negotiate with the IRS for a lower amount. Negotiating is completely dependent on whether or not you can show that you lack the income or the assets to pay for the full amount. Therefore, you submit an offer in compromise, which states that you will pay a lower total amount spread out over a certain period of time, plus interest, in exchange for the wage garnishment to be lifted. This often will mean that you owe a lower amount per month than you would normally – which helps out a lot.

You can also lift a wage garnishment if you can prove that it is unfair. This is usually either because a person didn't earn as much as the IRS claims, or owes less taxes than the IRS claims. A lawyer can help you file a motion to quash (dismiss) the wage garnishment, and if the case is convincing, a federal judge can order the garnishment to be lifted.

Of course, if you are lucky enough to live in Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, or Pennsylvania, you cannot have your wages garnished (unless you owe child support, court-ordered fines, or student loans).

Finally, a last avenue is if the IRS improperly pursued the wage garnishment. They are required to send you a Notice and Demand for Payment (written), and then a Final Notice of Intent to Levy and Notice of Your Right to A Hearing no later than a month before the garnishment is applied. If they do not follow these steps, the garnishment is null and void.

Know Your Rights - and Your Responsibilities

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    • shai77 profile image

      Chen 6 years ago

      Yes. An independent contractors is also subject to garnishment under the same laws as those who are employed by a company/business

    • SJKSJK profile image

      SJKSJK 7 years ago from delray beach, florida

      If the only job you have is as an independent contractor, can your pay still be garnisned?