How Much Can They Take?!

The short answer to this question is “A LOT.”

My clients always ask me how much the IRS can take from their paycheck if the IRS decides to issue a wage garnishment. This is a common question from someone who does not understand how the process works. The IRS does not take a percentage of one’s income; instead, the IRS is bound by a complex set of levy exemptions. The IRS takes all the income except the amount that is exempt from levy as shown on the tables in Publication 1494. It may be more appropriate to ask, “How much is the IRS required to leave for me?”

The amount of income that is exempt from levy depends primarily on the taxpayer’s filing status, the number of exemptions claimed, and the pay frequency. As an example, a single wage earner claiming one exemption who is paid once a month is allowed to take home $791.67 based on the 2011 rate. The IRS gets the rest regardless of the taxpayer’s actual earnings. That same wage earner, if he were paid weekly, would take home only $182.69. A married wage earner filing jointly and claiming two exemptions is allowed to take home $1,583.33 if paid monthly, and $365.38 if paid weekly.

A wage garnishment can deal a crippling blow to your finances. But a wage garnishment can be stopped. Contact Montgomery & Wetenkamp for more information.

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