Types and Limits of Wage Garnishments: All You Need to Know

If you have an outstanding debt, such as a student loan, child support, or back taxes, the government can garnish your wages. How wage garnishment works is that the court orders your employer to withhold part of your salary and use it to meet your outstanding liabilities. Wage garnishment laws vary from one debt type to another. What you must know is that there are a number of restrictions on wage garnishments, including the amount of money your employer can garnish. It is always advisable to speak to experts to learn how wage garnishment works and get help avoiding or stopping it. To help you with some basic information, let’s check out the limitations on different debt types.

Must Read: Understanding Wage Garnishment Laws in Texas

Court Judgments

If a money judgement is entered against you for non payment of your debts, the plaintiff can garnish your wages. Except for debts such as back taxes, child support, and student loans, the creditor first needs a court order to garnish your wages. If, for example, you fail to pay your credit card bill or default on a loan, the creditor cannot simply start garnishing your wages. They must first win a lawsuit and get a court order to that effect. Federal law limits the amount of money your employer can deduct from your salary. The amount is either the amount by which your weekly wages exceed 30 times the minimum wage, or 25 percent of your disposable earnings, whichever is less. Your employer cannot fire you for wage garnishment to settle one of your debts. If your wages are being garnished for more than a single debt, however, your employer can take some action against you.

Back Taxes

If you owe any back taxes, the IRS can deduct money from your paycheck, and to do this, they do not need a court order. The amount of money the IRS can garnish from your paycheck depends on the total number of dependents you have and your standard deduction amount. When the IRS garnishes your wages, they may deduct a significant amount. That is why it is essential to speak to a tax attorney to learn how you can avoid or stop wage garnishment. Note that before the IRS levies wage garnishment, they must send you a “Notice of Intent to Levy”, and a copy of the same to your employer.

Child Support

After the court holds a separating parent accountable for child support, it sends a copy of the order to the parent’s employer. The employer then garnishes wages from the parent’s paycheck and sends the money to the other parent. If the parent who has received the court order is supporting their spouse and another child, the court cannot garnish more than 50 percent of their disposable earnings. If the parent is not supporting any spouse or children, the court may order a garnishment of up to 60 percent of their disposable earnings. The court may also order a deduction of an additional 5 percent of their wages, if they have more than 12 weeks of arrears.

Student Loans

Any person who defaults on a student loan may be subject to a 15 percent deduction of their wages. The agency garnishing a debtor’s wages, unlike in the case of other loans such as credit card loans, does not require a court order to begin the wage garnishment process. They must, however, notify the debtor that their wages will be garnished, 30 days before the garnishment starts. The letter of notification must include:

  • Total debt
  • How to make voluntary payments
  • How to procure a copy of the loan-related documents
  • How to apply for a hearing on the wages to be garnished


There are many other aspects of wage garnishment that you need to know. If you owe back taxes, for example, state and local tax agencies hold the right to deduct part of your wages, and not just the IRS. How much these taxing authorities can deduct from your paycheck varies from state to state. By speaking to attorney at Nick Nemeth, you can learn all about its intricacies and how to stop wage garnishment. To schedule an appointment and meet with Nick, call us at (972) 426-2553. You can also fill our contact form, we will get back to you, shortly.

Types and Limits of Wage Garnishments: All You Need to Know
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