If you owe money for credit cards, medical bills, or a repossession, this type of creditor cannot garnish your wages until they file a lawsuit against you and get a judgment from the court. A judgment is an official court order that states you owe the money to the creditor. A judgment can include court costs, interest and attorney fees and add up to a lot more money than you thought you owed. A judgment will also be a lien on any land or houses that you own.
Once one of your creditors has the judgment, they can use it to garnish your wages or attach it to any bank account in your name. A wage garnishment is an order from a court or a government agency sent to your employer telling them to hold money out of your paycheck. When your employer receives a garnishment order, it is required to withhold a certain amount of money from your paycheck each pay period and send this money to your creditor.
Mississippi law limits the amount that can be taken from your wages. Mississippi law also has a provision which allows you a 30 day grace period . This prevents your employer from taking any money out of your paycheck for 30 days after the garnishment order is served on the job. However, most employers never tell the employee that they received the garnishment. The first time the employee knows about the garnishment is when they see 1/4th of their paycheck missing. The 30 day grace period is there to allow the employee time to contest the garnishment or stop it. What if the employee never received notice of the lawsuit? What if the debt was for someone else with a similar name? There are lots of reasons why a garnishment might not be valid.
Generally, once the garnishment goes into effect, your employer cannot take more than 25% of your disposable earnings. Disposable earnings is what is left over after your employer has taken out taxes and deductions required by law.
If you have more than one garnishment, the total amount that can be taken from your pay is 25% (this doesn’t include child support). Any other garnishments will just have to get in line and wait their turn. As soon as one garnishment finishes, the next one will move up in line and start receiving money.
The garnishment can also be used to seize money in any bank account that has your Social Security number listed on it. The bank will freeze the account for 30 days from the day they receive the garnishment. Money deposited to the account will be trapped in the account. Your checks will bounce, automatic drafts will not be paid and your debit card won’t work during this 30 day period. At the end of the 30 days the bank will turn the money over to the creditor that filed the garnishment.
Checking and saving accounts that contain only funds from Social Security or SSI checks are protected from garnishment.
Child Support Orders
Mississippi law states that orders for domestic support must be paid regardless of any other wage garnishments or withholding. Child support payments can be deducted at the same time and in addition to a garnishment. Creditors seeking domestic support or back support payments don’t have to wait 30 days to take your wages.
Student Loan Collections
If you have defaulted on a federal student loan, the U.S. Department of Education or any one of their debt collectors can garnish your wages without going to court and getting a judgment. The most that they can garnish is 15% of your disposable income. Private student loans and their debt collectors must first go to court and obtain a judgment and wait the 30 days before they can garnish your paycheck.
IRS and State Taxes
The IRS and the Mississippi Department of Revenue can garnish your wages if you owe back taxes, without a court judgment. The amount they can garnish depends on how many dependents you have and your tax deduction rate. The IRS and the Mississippi Department of Revenue do not have to wait 30 days to garnish your wages.
Bankruptcy can stop garnishments.