Wage garnishments certainly seem onerous. After all, you work hard to get ahead, and then in an instant, up to 80 percent of your salary is seized by the federal, and possibly state, government to pay off the back taxes you owe. The only possible worse scenario would be if you were a retiree, in which case the IRS can then take 100 percent of your Social Security benefits. Our tax attorneys at Huntsman | Lofgran, PLLC help you deal with government wage garnishments, and if possible, help you avoid these embarrassing and resource-draining tax levies altogether.
The federal and state tax authorities do not need court approval to garnish your salary, wages, bonuses, and commissions, or even your retirement or pension earnings. All that’s required for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to garnish funds is to:
The IRS can garnish up to 80 percent of a taxpayer’s income. The IRS does not take into account your personal needs, but rather, it follows the guidelines set forth in IRS Publication 1494.
At a minimum, single taxpayers with two exemptions (themselves and one child) are allowed to keep $53.46 if they are paid daily, $267.31 per week, $534.62 biweekly, $579.17 semimonthly and $1,158.33 if they are paid once a month. A minimum wage employee making $7.25 per hour and getting paid weekly would get to keep $267.31 of their paycheck after normal taxes and deductions. The remaining $22.39 would go to the IRS for back taxes, and this would continue for as long as it takes the IRS to collect the full amount of the back taxes.
For married taxpayers filing jointly with one exemption, the IRS allows $61.92 per day, $309.62 per week, $619.23 biweekly, $670.23 semimonthly and $1,341.67 per month. This means that a married couple working full-time at a minimum wage of $7.25 ($580 per week) could expect to have the IRS take $278.38 per week. The percentage of garnishment would rise if the couple made more. A couple making $1,600 per week might find the IRS taking $1,290.38 of that week after week until their entire tax bill is paid in full.
Our legal team at Huntsman | Lofgran, PLLC helps you propose an alternative solution to wage garnishment before your employer receives notice of it. Alternatives may include an offer in compromise, in which the tax authority agrees to accept an amount lesser than it maintains is owed, or a negotiated repayment plan — or both. If a garnishment has been implemented against you, we get the order stayed until we can work out an agreement. Call us at 801-474-0031 or contact us online for a free initial consultation to see how working with our Salt Lake City firm makes a difference.