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How Wage Garnishments Work

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Wage garnishment can be one of the most dreaded forms of debt collection. If this is happening to you, you don’t have much choice but to pay off a debt—and often on the court’s terms–as your employer has been instructed to take funds out of your check and make sure they go directly to the creditor. Not only is money now being taken out of your check, but you must suffer the humiliation of having your employer know more about your personal life—and your finances—than you would probably like. And while the reasons you are paying the money back can be numerous, this form of repayment may cause all those hours at work to feel somewhat demoralizing as you are now receiving less, working each day to pay whichever company is on the receiving end of your dollars. For many, it may be a struggle to survive on a full paycheck, much less one that now has a significant percentage being deducted from it.

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The IRS Does Not Need a Court Order

Garnishing of the paycheck occurs for many different reasons, to include payment of back child support and alimony, as well as other debts like back taxes. You may have been going back and forth with the IRS over funds they say you owe, and they will not be shy about making sure you pay back the debt. A court order is not required in that case, and the IRS may take a significant chunk of your check, depending on your deductions and dependents. The IRS will first send a wage levy notice to your employer, so you will have a heads-up before they begin taking your money, as well as the opportunity to fill out an exemption claim form.

Student Loan Servicers & Creditors May Take Up to 25 Percent

Creditors may also be able to have your wages garnished after they have sued you and not only won the case but a court order too. And while the IRS can take more than most, here you will find that creditors have a limit generally of around 25 percent of your net take-home pay. This varies by state. Wage garnishing is often mentioned in regards to student loans that are in default as well. This is unfortunately a reality, and the Department of Education does not require a court order either. If your student loan is in default, they can take up to 15 percent of your wages, after notifying you a month in advance. This is one reason it is very important not to let a student loan go into default—not to mention the damage it does to your credit. There are several different forms of repayment programs (income-driven) as well as forgiveness programs that many are able to qualify for, as well as deferment and forbearance, before heading into default.

Contact Us if You Need Advice Regarding Debt

If credit card debt, student loan debt, or other financial issues are currently a challenge and you need advice, contact Fitzgerald & Campbell, APLC, a law firm with decades of experience in helping clients to explore their financial options. Let us review your case and help you go from there. We are here to help! Call us today for a free consultation at (844) 431-3851, or email us at

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