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Wage Garnishment in Florida (2024) – All You Need to Know

When you have unpaid state or federal taxes, the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) may take several steps to reclaim the taxes owed. If you have not responded or negotiated an alternate plan with the IRS after being notified, the IRS may take actions like levies, liens, and wage garnishment. If your wages have been garnished, you can be in a precarious and stressful financial situation. A Florida wage attorney can help you determine the options for resolving garnished wages.

What Is Wage Garnishment?

Wage garnishment, also called wage attachment, occurs when a creditor takes a portion of wages directly from your paycheck to recover unpaid debt. Creditors like credit card companies or personal loan creditors must get court approval to garnish wages.

The IRS does not need this approval for unpaid taxes. Instead, the IRS notifies your employer to garnish your wages. Your employer is required to withhold the percentage required and send it to the IRS. Garnishment will impact any of your earned income, including whether you make a salary or hourly wages, and affect bonuses, commissions, and other forms of income.

Being self-employed does not prevent your wages from being garnished. Instead, the IRS can garnish accounts receivable. This means that the money owed to you as a self-employed business owner or freelancer will be garnished, which can negatively impact your professional relations and reputation.

The IRS does not usually start with wage garnishment as the first tactic to recover taxes but will do so if no action is taken by a taxpayer. When you need your income to cover your monthly expenses, wage garnishment can be incredibly devastating. The IRS may garnish wages in addition to bank account levies, property liens, and other actions, which can create an even more financially stressful situation.

Restrictions for Wage Garnishment

Your wages that are garnishable are calculated based on your weekly wages after required deductions. The state of Florida follows federal law for wage garnishment limitations. Under federal requirements, no more than 25% of your wages can be garnished. The amount that your weekly income exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wage may also be the limit for garnishment, given it is less than 25% of your wages.

If you make less than 30 times the minimum wage each week, creditors are not allowed to garnish your wages. This may mean they take other actions to recover the debt. If you have multiple creditors, their total garnishments cannot exceed these restrictions. However, there are some creditors or types of debts that may exceed these amounts.

The IRS is also able to garnish income from Social Security benefits or military retirements if you do not make other income. The IRS can garnish up to 15% of these benefits.

Exemptions for Wage Garnishment

One exemption for wage garnishment in Florida is the head of household exemption. You are the head of the household if you provide more than half of the support for a minor child or other dependent. To qualify for the head-of-household exemption where your wages cannot be garnished, you must:

  1. Be the head of the household, and
  2. Earn less than $750 per week.

If you are the head of household and earn greater than $750 per week, you must agree in writing to any wage garnishment actions. Because of this requirement, you may be able to prevent wage garnishment for any amount until you sign a waiver.

However, you must file for the head-of-household exemption to claim it and file it in time. If you do not file for the exemption in time, you can’t claim it, and your wages will be garnished.

Defending Against Wage Garnishment

If your wages have been garnished, you still have options. There are ways to negotiate for a lower wage garnishment, a tax settlement, or an installation agreement. This can help prevent further IRS actions.


Q: What Are the Rules for Wage Garnishment in Florida?

A: Wage garnishment can only affect income that is disposable income or all income besides required deductions. Federal law also protects you from employment termination if you have one garnishment placed on your income. If you pay back the debt to the IRS in full, wage garnishment should end within 30 days. If your wages are being garnished in a way that violates the laws, including exceeding the maximum amount garnishable, you can file a claim against a creditor for their actions.

Q: What Cannot Be Garnished in Florida?

A: Only 25% of your income can be garnished after legally required deductions, and assets that cannot be garnished include unemployment benefits, tax credit income, benefits from life insurance accounts, and some similar welfare benefits. Although Social Security disability benefits and retirement accounts cannot be garnished by all creditors, they can be garnished by the IRS or state agency to recover unpaid taxes.

Additionally, you can file for a head-of-household exemption if you qualify, which can prevent any garnishment or require your written agreement to be completed.

Q: How Do I Stop Wage Garnishment in Florida?

A: The most effective way to avoid wage garnishment is to pay the debt in full. Unfortunately, this is not always an option for those with significant debt and/or limited resources. When a wage garnishment is initiated by the IRS, there are ways to negotiate with the agency to stop or lower wage garnishment. Creating a payment plan, applying for an offer in compromise, or other options may enable you to stop or lower wage garnishment and other IRS actions.

Q: What Is the Maximum Wage Garnishment in Florida?

A: If your wages are being garnished by one or multiple creditors in Florida, the maximum amount that can be garnished is a total of 25% of your income or the same amount that your disposable income is greater than 30 times the federal minimum wage, whichever is lower.

This maximum applies to your income after legally required deductions have been made, including federal and state taxes like Social Security and unemployment deductions. Even when you have multiple creditors, the total garnishment of your wages remains the same.

Wage Garnishment Attorneys in Florida

If you are facing notice of wage garnishment or other IRS tactics, it is crucial that you work with a qualified tax attorney. An attorney can help you find the ideal route to mitigate the financial consequences of garnishment. Contact Tax Smith Tax Attorneys today.



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