Managing wage garnishments is notoriously complicated, especially for large organizations. If there’s an error in calculating and deducting garnishments, employers can be held for garnishment amounts and face litigation and associated expenses. Fortunately, our expert guidance on wage garnishment helps take the stress out of payroll garnishment compliance and complex legal requirements so you can put the focus back where it belongs: on your business.
Wage Garnishment Services
Take the Stress and Risk Out of Wage Garnishments
Frequently Asked Questions
Wage garnishment is a legal process requiring an employer to withhold a portion of an employee’s earnings to repay a debt. The wage garnishment order will come from a court or government agency, such as the IRS, outlining the details of the request. Employers must comply with this order, otherwise, penalties can add up quickly.
Federal law — Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act — mandates how much an employer can withhold from an employee’s earned wages.
The amount subject to withholding is applied to an employee’s disposable earnings, which is the amount remaining after legally required deductions, such as income taxes. The maximum weekly amount is determined by one of two figures, whichever results in the lowest amount:
- 25% of an employee's disposable earnings, or
- The difference between their weekly disposable earnings and 30 times the federal minimum wage (as of writing, $7.25 x 30 = $217.50). Example: $250 (weekly earnings) - $217.50 = $32.50 (maximum withholding).
Wage garnishments are sorted into three categories: state, federal, and private. Employees must pay federal debts first, so any wage garnishment requests from federal agencies will precede state-level or private. Though wage garnishment can apply in many different debt contexts, a handful are the most common:
- Unpaid taxes
- Overdue child support payments, alimony, or medical support
- Defaulted government student loans
- Creditor garnishments
How the wage garnishment process unfolds depends on federal and state laws. First, you must notify your employee immediately in writing that you’ve received a wage garnishment order. Some garnishments may have a standard form that serves this purpose. In the case of a federal levy, form 668 can cover this communication with your employee. It’s best to communicate this information to your employee within one week of receiving the order.
Employers should prioritize notifying HR or payroll departments of the garnishment so relevant information can be entered into payroll and ensure payments are sent to the correct agency or entity. Employees can find a garnishment in the deductions section of their pay stub. It’s listed as a code corresponding to the type of garnishment the employer applies to the employee’s disposable earnings.