IRS Wage Garnishments

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The Internal Revenue Service has broad depth in its ability to collect on tax liability; and the tax code itself is written to virtually protect the IRS in every possible way, which means debt owed to the IRS is mostly never forgiven. 

As an example of its power, the IRS federal tax lien is a lien that attaches both to personal and real property. This means it is all encompassing and in order to enforce the lien the IRS has the ability to seize homes as well as the personal belongings within the dwelling. No other creditor is extended this kind of power in terms of a creditor's ability to collect on a debt. 

Most commonly though, the IRS will collect on its debts through wage garnishments. Unlike other creditors, the IRS can garnish your pay check without a court order. The amount of the garnishment depends upon the number of dependents you have and your particular deductions. 

Herrin & Wright is a Dallas bankruptcy attorney firm that often helps clients deal with IRS wage garnishments and ultimately eliminating their IRS debt. 

This article will discuss the basic concepts of an IRS wage garnishment and the solution that Herrin & Wright, Dallas bankruptcy attorneys, can offer clients. 


It is a misnomer that the IRS does not have to notice a person before the wage garnishment goes into effect; the IRS does not have to apply for a court order, but the IRS does provide notice. The notice is usually a two-step process. First a consumer will receive a letter titled "Notice of Intent to Levy". These letters inform the tax-payer of the amount owed and provide a telephone number to contact the IRS to arrange for a payment plan or appeal the amount indicated that is owed. If this letter goes ignored, the IRS will send a second letter titled "Intent to Levy" and this letter is the warning letter of the garnishment. What makes consumers feel as if the wage garnishment is a surprise is that the "Intent to Levy" letter does not contain a start date; therefore, when a garnishment begins it is a surprise because the consumer will never know when the IRS actually put the order in place. 

The key to avoiding a wage garnishment is to seek advice when you are receiving collection letters from the IRS. The IRS is a huge government agency, which means it moves very slow, but once it makes a decision to collect its power to collect is strong. Therefore, if you receive any letter stating the IRS intends to place a levy you need to call Herrin & Wright to book a consultation with one of its attorneys. 


Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the most effective tool for stopping an IRS wage garnishment and dealing with an IRS debt. 

First, Chapter 13 bankruptcy will 100% stop the garnishment and that is a guarantee; there is no loop-hole for the IRS to continue to garnish a person's wages once a bankruptcy has been filed. Furthermore, if a garnishment continued after the filing of a bankruptcy the IRS could be in violation of the Federal Bankruptcy Code for violating the automatic stay. 

With most employers it takes one pay cycle to stop the IRS wage garnishment. However, physically stopping the garnishment depends upon a consumer's particular payroll department and when payroll is submitted to processing and how quickly the payroll department is able to make changes to the processing of the check. 

But, the right to the garnishment ceases immediately upon the filing and the IRS is not entitled to the garnishment the moment the case is filed, it is instantaneous. 


As this article has hinted at, it is difficult to be forgiven of IRS debt and in most cases a consumer will not be forgiven of his or her tax liability. Ultimately the reason why IRS debt is so protected is because of over-arching policy reasons; we are all United States Citizens and paying taxes is how society contributes to our country's ability to function; therefore, our tax debts cannot be forgiven. 

On the other hand, outside of bankruptcy, IRS debt is collected with daily penalty and interest accruing. So the amount of debt that is owed increases rather than decreases because of the interest. In most cases of a wage garnishment, the IRS debt will not be paid off for years and the total amount owed will increase because the garnished amount will only be enough to cover the interest and penalties. 

Chapter 13 stops all interest and penalties from accruing; as a result, the amount of money that is owed on the day of filing is the maximum amount of money that the IRS is entitled to collect. Chapter 13 will reorganize the IRS debt into an affordable payment plan that is spread out over a 36-60 month period. At the end of the bankruptcy a consumer will not owe any money to the IRS, there will be no wage garnishment, and the tax-payer will again be entitled to receive any tax refunds owed for future filings. 

Herrin & Wright is a Dallas Bankruptcy law firm and its bankruptcy attorneys are well equipped to deal with consumer's IRS problems and work with consumer's to bring an end to the worry and frustration caused by owing the IRS money.
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