Wage garnishment

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:36 pm
Wage garnishment is a legal, usually court-ordered, procedure that requires employers to withhold part of an employee's earnings to fulfill the payment of a debt. The debt may be a credit card balance, student loan, or child support obligation. How much of an employee's wage can be garnished is regulated under Title III (three) of the Consumer Credit Protection Act. Generally, the amount that can be garnished depends on an employee's earnings after taxes, Social Security, and other governmental retirement deductions are made. Once an employee's earnings are calculated, the amount garnished may not exceed 25 percent of the figure. Additional protection is provided for low-income earners. They must be left with a weekly wage equal to 30 times the current federal minimum wage. If an employee's earnings for the workweek are equal to less than 30 times the federal minimum wage, there can be no wage garnishment. In court orders for child support or alimony, the garnishment law allows up to 50 percent of a worker's earnings to be withheld if the worker is supporting another spouse or child, and up to 60 percent for a worker who is not. Garnishment restrictions don't apply to bankruptcy court orders, debts due for federal and state taxes, or situations in which workers voluntarily agree that their employers may turn over some specified amount of their earnings to a creditor. If a state wage garnishment law differs from the federal law, the law resulting in the smaller garnishment must be observed. Keep in mind that The Consumer Credit Protection Act prohibits an employer from discharging an employee whose earnings have been subject to garnishment for the payment of a debt.

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