One of the most powerful collection tools the IRS uses is the wage garnishment. Wage garnishments are usually applied where the taxpayer has not been responsive to previous collection procedures. Garnishments can happen suddenly and sometimes leave you without enough income to meet your monthly living expenses. In limited cases, you can also face the risk of job loss.

To garnish wages, the IRS will send a notice to your employer. You employer will inform you almost immediately. The IRS can also garnish self-employment (Form 1099) income or income from your investments. The levy on wages will remain in effect until the IRS releases it. Once a garnishment is in place, it will be removed where the taxes are paid in full, or where the garnishment causes you, the taxpayer, significant financial hardship.

Steps to Stop an IRS Wage Garnishment

In most cases, garnishments are generally applied where you have been unresponsive or uncooperative to IRS collection procedures.

Probably the first best course of action is to hire a Taxpayer Resolution Service (TPRS) advocate with the knowledge and experience to help you. Removing or stopping a wage garnishment requires a thorough understanding of IRS collection procedure and your taxpayer rights.

If a garnishment has not already been assessed, respond quickly to any IRS Intent to Levy notices. Complete the appropriate forms and return it to the IRS as quickly as possible.

If the garnishment is already in place, or about to happen, review the IRS levy guidelines for wage garnishments. The IRS garnishment procedures on wages are based on the frequency of wage payments received and the number of exemptions you claim. The applicable tables used by the IRS are updated annually. You can review this information through the IRS Publication 1494: “Tables for Figuring Amount Exempt For Levy on Wages, Salary and Other Income”. Make sure the IRS is not levying more than the guideline amount.

If you’re experiencing, or will be experiencing, a qualifying financial hardship as a direct result of the wage garnishment, have your Taxpayer Problem Resolution Service (TPRS) advocate contact the IRS immediately to get the garnishment lifted or reduced.

Finally, if you can’t qualify for financial hardship status, consult with your Taxpayer Problem Resolution (TPRS) advocate to review your installment agreement options and your eligibility to qualify for an offer in compromise.