An Overview of Wage Garnishment
The term “wage garnishment” can strike fear in the hearts of any working individual, but it’s not as ominous as it sounds at first glance. A wage garnishment is a legal procedure often used when someone has not paid their debts as agreed upon with their creditor. It involves the person’s employer deducting money from their paycheck and sending it directly to the creditor.
What is Wage Garnishment?
Wage garnishment is a course of action that can be taken when a person has an overdue debt. Essentially, a court order directs an employer to withhold a certain portion of an employee’s wages to repay the debt. These garnishments can be for various debts, such as credit card bills, court costs, or child support. One crucial aspect to remember is that wage garnishments are generally a last resort for creditors, used only after all attempts to collect debts have failed.
According to the IRS, wage garnishment amounts can range from 15% to 25% of disposable earnings or the amount by which weekly wages exceed thirty times the federal minimum wage. This percentage is determined by the nature and amount of the debt.
How Does Wage Garnishment Work?
Before wage garnishment can take place, the creditor must first secure a court Judgment against the debtor. This process involves the creditor filing a lawsuit against the debtor who, after due notification, might have the opportunity to defend themselves. If the creditor is successful, the court will issue a wage garnishment order.
Subsequently, the employer receives and implements the wage garnishment order to withhold a portion of the employee’s earnings. The employer then sends the garnished amount directly to the creditor. It’s important to note that an employer cannot terminate an employee based solely on wage garnishment, according to the Consumer Credit Protection Act.
Types of Wage Garnishments
Wage garnishments are not all the same; their variations depend mainly on the type of debt owed. Below are some types of wage garnishments:
- Child Support and Alimony: These are typically the highest priority garnishments. Additionally, they often allow for a higher percent of wage garnishment.
- Student Loans: The U.S. Department of Education or any entity collecting for this agency can garnish wages for defaulted student loans without obtaining a court judgment.
- Taxes: The federal and state government can garnish wages for unpaid taxes. The percentage deducted varies based on the debtor’s deduction rate and number of dependents.
- Creditors: For consumer debts such as credit cards, personal loans, and medical bills, creditors must obtain a court judgment before implementing wage garnishment.
Wage Garnishment and the Role of Brightside Tax Relief
At Brightside Tax Relief, we understand how daunting wage garnishment can be, especially when it involves dealing with the IRS. We are committed to helping our clients understand the process and exploring all available options. Our experts assist in examining the wage garnishment order, identifying possible errors, and determining potential ways to stop or reduce the garnishment.
Reacting to Wage Garnishment
Upon receiving a wage garnishment notice, it’s essential to act swiftly and responsibly. Ignoring the situation will not make it go away and, instead, likely compound the problem. Here are some steps to take:
- Contact the Creditor: Some creditors might be open to setting up a payment plan outside of wage garnishment.
- Examine the Judgment: Ensure the court order is authentic and accurate. If any discrepancies are found, they can be contested.
- Consult a Professional: Seek the help of a professional like a tax advisor or attorney. They can provide guidance and represent you in negotiations or court proceedings.
- Consider Bankruptcy: As a last resort, filing for bankruptcy can stop most wage garnishments.
Wage garnishment can be intimidating, but understanding how it works and taking the right steps can mitigate its impact. Whether dealing with unpaid taxes, student loans, or other financial obligations, Brightside Tax Relief is here to provide expert guidance and assistance. Remember, wage garnishment is a serious matter that requires immediate attention, but with the right professional help, you can navigate it successfully.