How Can Wages Be Garnished?

• In three situations wages may be garnished before you sue:

  • The IRS can take everything but about $100 a week.
  • The Department of Education or a state guarantee agency can garnish up to 10% of wages if in default on a student loan.
  • Up to 50% of wages can be garnished to pay child support or alimony.

To place a lien on a house or empty a bank account, almost all creditors must first sue, get a judgment and then use a law enforcement officer. A few creditors, such as an unpaid contractor who worked on a house, can put a lien on a home without suing. And again, the IRS is an exception ­­ it can place a lien or empty a bank account without suing first.

A tax refund can never be taken unless the Treasury Department receives such a request from the IRS, the Department of Education or a child support collection agency.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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