Wage Garnishment: The Silent Thief
UNDERSTANDING WAGE GARNISHMENTS
Are your wages being garnished? It could be because you owe money for something. Possibly because of a court order or judgment, or because you haven't paid taxes, or because you defaulted on a student loan, or owe child support. In any case, a part of your paycheck is being held back to make those payments. Learn the facts about wage garnishments and how you can protect yourself:
• In most cases, a bank or creditor must obtain a judgment in court before wage garnishment can start. You should be notified about the court order process. The law restricts how the amount that can be taken out of your paycheck to pay creditors. The largest limit is generally 25 percent of your paycheck, and this amount is taken after standard deductions such as regular taxes or health insurance. However, it can vary based on other factors. For example, you may lose 50 percent of your paycheck if you owe child support. Each state has its own rules and may have even lower max limits.
• Wage garnishments and taxes. If you owe taxes, the IRS doesn’t need an official court order for wage garnishment. This is important to remember because the process is different for unpaid taxes. The amount that is garnished will vary, but the IRS uses the number of dependents to figure it out. In addition, your standard deduction plays a role in the final figure. State and local districts can also garnish wages for unpaid taxes.
• Be aware of job security and protection. Your employer can’t fire you because of the wage garnishment and extra hassle of taking money out of your paycheck. This can’t be used against you at work. Laws are in place to protect you from losing your job during a wage garnishment.
• Consider fighting a court order. If you don’t agree with the wage garnishment, then you must use the court systems to fight it. You’ll have to present your case in court during a hearing and show that the garnishment is placing an unreasonable burden on you. You may also ask if you qualify for an exemption.
• Student loans. If you have federal student loans, then a court order may not be necessary for a garnishment to start. If you are in default on your federal student loans, the garnishment can start without a court judgment. However, you have the choice to start a repayment plan or ask for an exemption.
• The role of bankruptcy. A bankruptcy may stop a wage garnishment, but it carries other consequences. After you file for bankruptcy, you get an automatic stay that puts a hold on garnishments. Creditors must appear in court and ask that the stay be removed, so they can start the wage garnishments again. The automatic stay doesn’t apply to all types of garnishments. If you owe child support or alimony, then the stay doesn’t apply, and you’ll still have to pay a portion of your paycheck.
It’s recommended that you notify your employer, sheriff’s department, and others about the bankruptcy. This will prevent miscommunication and other issues from appearing.
You may be able to get previously garnished wages back during a bankruptcy. This usually applies to a time of 90 days before the bankruptcy is filed. You may have to file more paperwork to get the wages back. A wage garnishment can have a serious impact on your income and lifestyle. Even if you do owe the money that is being garnished, you still have some legal protection. Learn your rights so you can use them to your advantage.
Here are 3 things to keep in mind about wage garnishments, and how you can protect yourself:
1. Understand the federal laws. They'll send you a notice ahead of time, telling you that they're going to do this.
2. Know your state laws. Each state has its own laws about wage garnishments, so you'll need to look up what the rules are where you live. Some states have stricter laws than others, so you may have more or less protection.
3. Be aware of your rights. Even if your wages are being garnished, you still have certain rights. For example, you're entitled to a certain amount of your paycheck, which the creditor can't take away.
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Yet, despite its importance, knowledge is not always easy to come by. We often must search for it, whether that means reading books, conducting research or simply asking questions.
Even with all of life’s challenges, the power of knowledge is still worth pursuing. After all, it is only through knowledge that we can hope to improve our lives and make the world a better place.
When an employee is subject to wage garnishment, the employer must withhold the specified amount of money from the employee's paycheck and send it to the creditor. This process can be a burden for both the employer and the employee, as it can reduce the employee's take-home pay and cause financial strain.
Wage garnishment can be a difficult situation for all parties involved, but it is important to remember that it is a legal process that is put in place to help creditors receive the money that is owed to them. If you find yourself in a situation where your wages are being garnished, it is important to seek out legal advice to ensure that the process is being followed correctly.
In the United States, there are three federal laws that are influential in shaping the use of knowledge: the Freedom of Information Act, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and the Federal Trade Commission Act.