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Wage Garnishment

Maryland Tax Attorneys - Resolving IRS wage garnishment issues in the Baltimore, Annapolis and DC metro area.

Considering the vast enforcement powers enjoyed by the Internal Revenue Service, anyone with unpaid taxes needs to realize that they may be in serious danger of having assets or wages seized in order to satisfy the debt. While just about any creditor has the ability to seek payment through liens, levies and wage garnishments, the IRS has the power to do so without first securing a judgment through the courts. As a result, the impact of such collection activity on an individual or business taxpayer can be fairly abrupt and extremely severe.

If you believe you are in jeopardy of having a portion of your paycheck seized in order to pay back taxes, or your wages are already under an IRS garnishment order, you owe it to yourself to contact a Baltimore tax attorney with Rosenberg Martin Greenberg.

IRS Levies and Wage Garnishment

Whereas a typical creditor would need to pursue a judgment in court before attempting to freeze funds in a bank account or garnish wages, the IRS is able to proceed without taking such steps. All the agency needs to do is provide a delinquent taxpayer with advance notice of its intent to levy or garnish. The notice must be sufficient to afford you a fair amount of time to seek resolution of the situation, either through payment in full or some other type of arrangement, but otherwise, no judicial approval is necessary.

A levy is a collection mechanism through which a creditor takes steps to freeze a financial account known to be in the debtor's name, seizing the funds therein to satisfy the outstanding obligation. Any money subsequently deposited in such an account will also be seized by the creditor until the levy is lifted, typically after the full debt has been paid. Levies may also be utilized as a means to seize other types of property, including boats, cars, retirement funds and real estate.

Garnishment, on the other hand, is a mechanism through which a creditor compels an individual's employer to seize a specified portion of the worker's wages and send that amount directly to the creditor. While private creditors must obtain a court's approval to commence such a process, federal agencies including the IRS are free to do so after providing the requisite notice of intent to the debtor. Stopping this type of collection action can be surprisingly difficult to do once a garnishment begins to take hold.

Impact of Wage Garnishment

There is nothing worse than expecting to receive a standard paycheck only to find that a substantial portion of it has been snatched away by the IRS. Even more devastating is the realization that the garnishment levy will continue to be in effect for all subsequent paychecks until the outstanding tax debt is satisfied or the garnishment is released. Overtime payments, commissions and bonuses are all subject to seizure as well, making this collection tool extremely onerous for those taxpayers subjected to it.

Generally, garnishments implemented to satisfy commercial debts are done pursuant to state laws that place definite limits on how much money can be seized per pay period. However, wage garnishments initiated by the IRS to satisfy tax obligations are done quite differently. Agency regulations do not prescribe how much can be taken from each check, but instead determine the upper limit on how much you will be allowed to keep, based on your W-4 exemptions and how often you are paid. The bottom line is that many taxpayers are stunned to discover how little they are left with once the IRS becomes involved. The detrimental effect the loss of income can have on personal and family finances is often felt for years after the garnishment has been lifted.

IRS Collection Processes

As stated previously, your wages cannot rightly be garnished until the IRS provides fair notice and a chance to seek resolution of the debt. Notice must include a full accounting of what the agency claims you owe, including any penalties and interest. The date by which the debt must be satisfied will also be included in the notice. The Final Notice of Intent to Levy is intended to get your attention as a taxpayer and prompt you into immediate action. If you have received this type of correspondence, it is vital that you seek the assistance of skilled Baltimore tax lawyers with the expertise necessary to pursue a wage garnishment release.

Seeking a Wage Garnishment Release

Once in place, a wage garnishment of this type can prove extremely difficult to get released. Immediate payment in full of the stated tax obligation is the simplest and quickest method, though many taxpayers find this to be impossible. Therefore, it may be necessary to seek another kind of resolution, such as an installment agreement or designation as "Currently Not Collectible." Relief may be somewhat easier to obtain in a timely manner if you are able to demonstrate:

  • that the danger of adverse IRS tax collections is immediate
  • that the collection activity threatened will cause irreparable or long-lasting harm
  • that the garnishment was initiated in error and reimbursement is in fact owed

However, attempting to reach a compromise with the IRS on your own can prove daunting, and that is why a seasoned tax lawyer with Rosenberg Martin Greenberg can be an invaluable ally. We will conduct a thorough review of your financial circumstances and develop a negotiation strategy designed to halt IRS collection efforts and get you back on the path to full compliance.

Maryland Wage Garnishment Release Attorneys

At Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, our lawyers offer comprehensive experience in the negotiation and resolution of tax levies and wage garnishments initiated by the IRS as well as by the taxing authorities of Maryland and the District of Columbia. Because we understand the devastating effect wage garnishments can have on any taxpayer's financial health, our firm is prepared to bring a track record of success and a wealth of knowledge to bear on behalf of each client served.

If a wage garnishment is threatening to undermine your personal financial viability, we want you to know that help is available. Contact Brian Crepeau at bcrepeau@rosenbergmartin.com.

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If you are seeking counsel for a tax related legal matter, contact the Rosenberg Martin Greenberg Tax Controversy experts.

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