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3 Things the IRS Must Do Before Garnishing Your Wages


Wage garnishment occurs when a court orders your employer to withhold a portion of your paycheck and send it to a creditor or person to whom you owe money. Child support, student loans, and consumer debts are the most prominent sources of wage garnishment.


In most cases, your wages will be garnished until your debt is paid off or resolved. If your wages are being garnished, it is important to know your legal rights. Consulting with a skilled tax resolution lawyer is the best way to lessen the effects of wage garnishment. Read on for more details about wage garnishment and what the IRS is required to do on their end.

How Wage Garnishment Works

Many Americans are still struggling to pay off debts they accumulated during the 2007 recession. In a study conducted by NPR, researchers found that one in ten Americans between the ages of 35 and 44 are experiencing wage garnishment.


Wage garnishment occurs after a creditor sues a debtor for nonpayment of debt and wins in court. In some cases—such as child support or federal loans—a creditor does not need a court order to garnish your wages. If a creditor obtains a court order, a notice will be sent to your bank and employer. The garnishment usually begins within five to thirty days after a notice has been received and continues until the debt is paid off.

The Different Types of Wage Garnishment

There are two types of garnishment: wage and non-wage. In wage garnishment, a creditor, person, or government entity usually obtains a legal order from the court that requires your employer to take out part of your earnings to pay off any kind of debt—loans, alimony, and unpaid taxes, to name a few. In non-wage garnishment, a creditor or other entity can secure a bank levy, which allows the bank to freeze the account of a debtor until their debt is paid off. If after having their account frozen a person still does not pay off their debt, the creditor can go directly into their account to retrieve the funds.


People experiencing wage garnishment have legal rights they should be aware of, including caps on the amount a creditor can take from each paycheck. Specifically, if your garnishment is related to a delinquent tax bill, the IRS must take certain actions before they are legally allowed to garnish your wages. Outlined below are the three things the IRS must do before garnishing your wages.


1. They Must Send You a Written Notice

The IRS cannot garnish your wages without sending you written notice. If you are able to pay off your outstanding balance during the grace window, your wage garnishment will be lifted. Additionally, you can avoid garnishment by working out a payment plan with your creditor during the early notice period.


2. They Must Provide Documentation of Your Delinquent Tax Bill

To pursue wage garnishment, the IRS must be able to provide documentation that shows your refusal or inability to pay a tax bill or outstanding balance. If there are no records to support their claims, the IRS cannot move forward with garnishing your wages.


3. They Must Send a Second Notice a Month in Advance

Lastly, the IRS must follow up their early notice with a second notice one month before they can begin garnishing your wages. In the final notice, you should receive a letter informing you of your right to appeal the garnishment. You must request an appeal within 30 days to have a hearing.

Consult a Skilled Tax Resolution Attorney

If you have received an early notice from the IRS or are experiencing wage garnishment, it is best to consult with an experienced tax resolution attorney. At Morgan Sebastian Law, we’re eager to confront all the complexities of your tax issues. When you work with Attorney Becky Sebastian, you will experience compassionate attention that provides a sense of relief and peace of mind regarding your financial state.


To schedule a consultation with an experienced tax resolution lawyer, call (877) 223-6605 or fill out our online contact form.