Wage Garnishment: How It Works and What You Can Do

Wage garnishment is a court-ordered process that mandates your employer or bank to withhold a portion of your earnings/funds in your account and remit directly to a creditor. This happens until the debt is paid or you have resolved other obligations/conditions set by the court. Wage garnishment is quite common – one study revealed that over 7 percent of 13 million employees assessed had had their wages garnished. Common reasons included consumer debt, student loans, tax penalties/levies, and child support. Even when subjected to wage garnishment, you have certain rights and limits to be observed, and there are steps to follow to reduce the effect of wage garnishment. Learn more in this article.


How Wage Garnishment Works


In most cases, the creditor must sue you for nonpayment in court to receive a court order to institute wage garnishment. However, if you have tax debt, outstanding federal student loans, or child support, the creditor can send a notice to force garnishment even without the court order. Once the notice is served, garnishment begins within 5-30 days according to the details of the notice. In some cases, you may have to pay interest on the debt and court fees. Wage garnishment happen in two ways:

  • Wage garnishment – this happens to people in formal employment. The creditors legally require your employer to remit a portion of your earnings for debt repayment
  • Nonwage garnishment – this happens to people in non-formal employment. The creditors legally require a bank to remit funds in your account as a bank levy for debt repayment


Caps on Wage Garnishment


There are federal limits to the amounts that a creditor can request during wage garnishment. This is done on disposable income, which is the amount left after statutory deductions. It happens as follows:

  • Debt Cap on Garnishment
  • Common consumer debts (credit card, medical bills, unsecured loans, etc.)
  • The lower of 25% or the amount above (30 x federal minimum wage). Garnishment is not allowed if weekly earnings are below (minimum wage x 30)
  • Alimony and child support
  • 50% if you support another spouse/child; otherwise, 60%. A further 5% may be imposed if payments are delayed beyond 12 weeks
  • Tax levies/debt Up to 15% as determined by the IRS
  • Federal student loans 15%

States also impose state exemptions and limits on wage garnishment. Non-wage garnishment is less restricted and regulated, but it is less common.


What Can You Do?


Even though you have legal rights in wage garnishments, most states require that you are aware of them, and the onus to exercise them is on you. Some common rights include:

  • You must be legally notified of the garnishment
  • You can dispute inaccurate information or wrongful debts
  • Certain incomes cannot be subjected to garnishment, e.g. veteran’s benefits, disability, or social security. However, they could still be seized from your bank account
  • You can’t be fired for one garnishment, but this protection ceases for multiple garnishments

If you believe a garnishment judgement was issued erroneously, it is possible to challenge the notice. Read the notice carefully to ensure the information is accurate. Next, consider the amount to be deducted and how it affects your finances. It may be helpful to consult an attorney, tax relief professionals (if the debt is tax-related), or your local legal aid. With a professional’s help, you may challenge the judgement, negotiate a different settlement with the creditor, or accept the garnishment. You can also repay the debt in lump-sum to ease/prevent the garnishment. It is also helpful to also be honest with your employer about the circumstances behind the garnishment. This prevents your employer from drawing a worse conclusion and penalizing you for it.


Conclusion


Creating a budget and staying on top of your financial obligations is the best way to prevent wage garnishment. However, if you find yourself in this situation, a professional can help you to navigate it so that you are not affected too adversely. Do you need help to challenge or deal with wage garnishment? Contact us today to take advantage of our tax relief services and map your journey to better financial health.


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File Back Taxes and COVID-19 Tax Deadline

On 20th March 2020, the Treasury Department made an announcement stating the guidelines for the COVID-19 tax deadline. Certain businesses and taxpayers now have a 90-day extension for filing and paying their tax liability for 2019. The deadline for tax filing is 15th July 2020. If you are unable to file back taxes on time, you can still request a 3-month extension and file back taxes by 15th October 2020. The deadline for paying the taxes has also been extended to 15th July 2020. If you are able to pay your taxes before this deadline, you won't have to pay any additional penalties or interest.

Coronavirus pandemic has affected the world in a way that it’ll take us years to get back to normal. Every country has been trying its best to make it a little less stressful for its citizens. In this direction, the United States has also granted an extension to help its taxpayers with back taxes filing. Now, the taxpayers can enjoy a 90-day payment extension to file back taxes. This has brought a sigh of relief for many. Here is all that you need to know about the extension.

How To File Back Taxes After The COVID-19 Extension

The Corona Virus that originated in the Wuhan district of China has infected about 2.6 million people worldwide. Government and private organizations across the globe are counting costs because of this pandemic. In the United States, unemployment reached a record high and ended a decade of expansion efforts. But, the government is trying its best to make sure that the citizens are able to financially survive this pandemic. For this, the tax day has now shifted from 15th April 2020 to 15th July 2020. This change is applicable to the deadline to file back taxes. However, the IRS is still accepting returns and processing all the refunds. 

Here are the most common questions asked about the changes in the deadline made because of the Coronavirus:

Which taxpayers are eligible for the tax payment and filing deferral?

The following filers are eligible for the coronavirus tax extension:

  • Corporations who file Form 1120
  • Individuals for file Form 1040
  • States and trusts that file Form 1041
  • Fiscal year associations, companies, and partnerships who had 15th April 2020 as their due date

What must be done to delay the tax filing and payment?

The process to file back taxes or an extension is normal as before. Only the deadline has extended to 15th July. When you file the return, the special coronavirus extension for 90-days will be applied automatically. This means that all the penalties and interest are waived for 90 days. The same is applicable for paying the taxes as well. For all the qualifying businesses and taxpayers, no interest or penalties will accrue if they make the payment by 15th July.

What can I do if I can’t file back taxes by the new deadline?

If you are unable to file back taxes by 15th July 2020, you can request an extension by filing Form 4868. This way, you will have a 3-month extension and would have to file back taxes by 15th October 2020. However, the extension is not applicable to paying the taxes. The deadline for the payment is 15th July 2020.

How does this extension apply to refunds?

The extension won’t have any effect on the refund. According to the Treasury Department, all the taxpayers will be receiving their refunds in the normal time period. For example, in the case of electronic filing, 9/10 people will get their refunds in less than 21 days.

What payments are covered by this deferral?

The coronavirus tax deadline covers all the income tax payments along with the penalties and interest associated with it like failure-to-file or failure-to-pay penalty. Also, all the estimated tax payments and included tax payments on self-employment income that were due on 15th April 2020 are covered as well.

  1. Is there a limit on the amount of payment that can be deferred?

No, there is no limit on the tax payment amount that can be deferred.

Is the deferral applicable to the estimated tax payments of 2020 including the estimated taxes on self-employment income?

It is dependent on the date of the payment. For the estimated tax payment of first-quarter 2020, the deferral is applicable. This means that you can make the tax payment by 15th July 2020. For the estimated tax payment of second-quarter 2020, the deferral is not applicable. Also, there will be no waiver or deferral for the failure-to-pay penalty for estimated tax payments.

Is the deferral applicable to the state tax returns as well?

All the states have been issuing their own guidelines and deadlines to file back taxes. In some cases, it is the same as that of the federal guidelines while in others, it is different. You should check your state guidelines to ensure that you are eligible for the deferral.

Does this deferral mean that we don’t owe any taxes or need not file back taxes for the year 2019?

No. This deferral is only extending the deadline for the tax liability. Starting from 16th July 2020, all the penalties and interest will start to accrue on the outstanding tax payments. 

You can take the help of a tax resolution service to help you with the COVID-19 tax extension. A right tax resolution service will help you file back taxes and get the maximum possible refund by making legitimate claims and deductions. For some tax resolution firms, all you have to do is bring the documents to their offices. You won’t have to wait at all and a tax expert will do all your work for you. After they have completed the return, they will send a completed return electronically that you can review and approve.

Back taxes filing isn’t easy. However, the experts in the field can make it easy for you. Take the help of tax professionals while preparing your returns. They know how to file back taxes and will help eliminate errors. With tax experts by your side, you can rest assured that your tax returns are prepared correctly. Contact the best tax relief firm to hire a tax attorney today!