By: Law Office of Ray Haselman

Can You Stop the IRS From Garnishing Your Wages?

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What is Wage Garnishment?

Wage garnishment is one of the ways the IRS will utilize to collect past tax debt that is owed. Tax liens or levies are also commonly used, but wage garnishment is probably the most popular way that the IRS will attempt to collect the debt it is owed.

Based on federal law, the IRS can access and keep your income before it gets to you to suffice tax debts. Your income can include wages, bonuses, commissions, and salary.

For those that aren’t self-employed, there is a small margin that the IRS must leave alone so you can survive, but if you are self-employed, they can seize all of your income until the past due taxes are paid off.

What Does the Garnishment Process Involve?

If the IRS plans to garnish your wages, you will receive a letter notifying you of this well in advance. The total amount due will be included as a date to have the debt paid to avoid garnishment. This allows the recipient to prevent garnishment by paying what is owed by the specified date.

If you aren’t able to pay what is owed, a second letter will arrive via certified mail notifying you that in 30 days, the garnishment will begin.

A final letter will arrive explaining your options to appeal.

How Do I Stop Wage Garnishment?

The IRS can be intense, and it may feel like you have no recourse for wage garnishment.

You do, however, have options to avoid or suffice wage garnishment. One common approach is to appeal, as mentioned above. This will likely temporarily hold the garnishments but is not a solid approach to avoiding garnishment altogether. It’s also important to remember that you have 30 days to appeal after receiving the final letter notifying you of the intent to levy.

You can set up an installment plan to pay off what is owed. This option requires you to communicate with the IRS directly, explain and prove what you can pay as installments, and set up a payment plan through them.

In some cases, you can ask for an offer in compromise. This is a selective option that not everyone will be approved for. You can apply for an offer in compromise, which typically means the IRS will settle for a lesser amount to be paid off. The upside to this option is that the garnishment won’t occur until your application is reviewed. This option also requires negotiation skills, as you are essentially negotiating with the IRS to lessen the amount they are willing to accept that you owe.

Other Options to Stop Wage Garnishment

Bankruptcy is an option that some will choose to take to avoid garnishments. In some cases, the debt can be discharged by filing for bankruptcy. This is not a viable option for most due to the effects a bankruptcy can have on your credit report for years to come; however, it is the best option for some. Wage garnishment can have a lasting effect on your income, which may feel like a lesser of two evils compared to the damage that filing for bankruptcy can have on your credit report for seven to ten years.

You can apply for a financial hardship exemption through the IRS. Similar to the installment plan method above, you can communicate directly with the IRS to explain that paying back what is owed will significantly decrease your ability to care for yourself and your family.

How Can a Tax Attorney Help With Wage Garnishments?

An experienced tax attorney is your best ally in going up against the IRS. If you consider the IRS the most significant collection agency, you may realize that avoiding them isn’t an option.

An experienced tax attorney will be well-versed in tax laws in your county and state and may find other options available to you and your family. One example is the number of your wages you can keep each paycheck. This may be higher for some than others, and a tax attorney can help you to fight to keep more of your check each week to help provide for yourself and your family.

One of the most beneficial reasons to seek the assistance of a tax attorney is to borrow their knowledge. Each situation is going to be different. With several years of training and experience, a tax attorney can walk you through your options efficiently and choose which one gives you the best outcome.

It may be that bankruptcy is best for you, but an experienced attorney can help you begin this process and ensure that you are handling it effectively and within guidelines for the best outcome. For example, Chapter 7 may be the best for your family, but in some cases, Chapter 13 may be a better fit based on your assets or debts.

Contact Us Today

If your head is spinning, we can respect that. If you take anything from this article, let it be this; contact an experienced tax attorney immediately to help you sift through the details and devise a plan to get on to the next chapter of your life.

The IRS is not going anywhere, and the garnishment won’t stop unless you enact one of the above mentioned options. We have several years of experience working with clients and helping them face the IRS. You don’t have to do this alone. We fight tirelessly for our clients and are confident in going to bat for our clients, even against the IRS. Contact our office today at (786) 522-0410 to get started.