Legal

Ask a Lawyer and Get Answers to Your Legal Questions

Ask a Lawyer,
Get an Answer ASAP!

Legal

when being sued in civil court for a debt owed on an ...

Customer Question
when being sued in civil...
when being sued in civil court for a debt owed on an unsecured credit card, can your wages be garnished. i live in massachusetts; and if so, is there a maximum percentage that can be taken? thanks.
Submitted: 9 years ago.Category: Legal
Show More
Show Less
Ask Your Own Legal Question
Answered in 9 minutes by:
3/1/2008
Lawyer: Ray, Lawyer replied 9 years ago
Ray
Ray, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 44,436
Experience: 30 years in civil, probate, real estate, elder law
Verified
Thanks for your question and here's all the law concernig wage garnishment in your state. I hope this gives you guidance in this matter. Good luck to you...

Executive Summary

Garnishments are mandatory deductions authorized by a court order, federal or state tax levy or other legal entity to be taken from an employee's after-tax wages according to the written instructions accompanying the garnishment order. All payments received by an employee for compensation are subject to garnishment. Only those garnishments that identify the Commonwealth as the employer and direct the Commonwealth to garnish the pay, and are authorized by a court order, federal law, or state law can be deducted through the payroll system. All changes must be authorized in the same manner as when originally adopted. No Garnishments will be taken in arrears.

Considerations

This policy applies to all Commonwealth Branches and Departments

Policy

The Commonwealth processes Garnishments in accordance with the following hierarchy:

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Orders (Personal Bankruptcy Orders) and IRS Tax Levies - Chapter 13 Bankruptcy order takes top priority unless an IRS (Internal Revenue Service) IRS federal tax Levy is received first by the Department. If a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy order is received by the Department after an IRS tax levy, the IRS requires employers to continue paying federal tax levy obligations unless the IRS issues an official release of levy. The Department must contact the Bankruptcy Trustee listed in the Bankruptcy order to notify the Trustee of the outstanding IRS Tax levies and any other wage garnishments. In most cases, all other wage garnishments, including child support obligations must be stayed, in accordance with the language of the order and written instructions from the Bankruptcy Trustee listed on the Bankruptcy order. In certain cases, employers will be instructed by the Bankruptcy Trustee to continue child support payments. Any creditors who currently receive wage garnishments should be notified if the Bankruptcy Trustee orders the wage garnishment stayed, and should be supplied with a copy of the written instructions and a copy of the Bankruptcy order. These instructions from the Bankruptcy Trustee will supercede any current wage garnishment orders other than IRS tax levies. All notifications are handled by the Department. Any wage garnishment order received by the Department, after the establishment of a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy order, may not be entered into HR/CMS without prior review and approval by the Bankruptcy Trustee. The Department must immediately notify the both the Bankruptcy Trustee and the entity submitting any subsequent wage garnishment order in writing that a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy order is in place, and that the wage garnishment can not be entered without approval of the Bankruptcy Trustee. The subsequent entity may require the Department to submit a copy of the Bankruptcy order.

IRS Tax Levies and Child Support Orders - IRS Tax Levies and Child Support Orders are garnishments of equal status based on the date of the garnishment order. Whichever order is received first ("first in time, first in right") is the order that is processed first. IRS Levy - Internal Revenue Service (IRS) levies on property for payment of taxes pursuant to Internal Revenue Code 26 USC Section 6331. DOR collected orders for child and spousal support pursuant to MGL Chapter 119A, Section 12, include:

  • Temporary orders of a child support pending custody actions (MGL c.119 §28)
  • Orders for care and maintenance of children under void marriage (MGL c. 207);
  • Divorce orders for care and maintenance of children and alimony (MGL c. 208)
  • Orders for child and spousal support for married persons living apart (separated) (MGL c. 209)
  • Orders for temporary child and spousal support for victims of domestic violence (MGL c. 209A)
  • Orders for child support for children born out of wedlock (MGL c. 209C)
  • Criminal court orders for child or spousal support upon abandonment (MGL c. 273 § 18A)

All child support order payments ordered by a Massachusetts court will be sent to DOR for issuance to payees.

DOR Levies - Department of Revenue (DOR) levies on property for payment of taxes pursuant to MGL Chapter 62C, Section 53.

Spousal Support Orders - Court orders for spousal support (alimony) when there is no child support involved pursuant to MGL Chapter 208, Section 36A, Chapter 246 and Chapter 209D.

Student Loan Repayments - Administrative wage garnishments issued by the federal government collected by "the state treasurer or other state official authorized to expend money on behalf of the Commonwealth" for nonpayment of student loans pursuant to MGL Chapter 29, Section 31. Garnishment orders for unpaid student loans are generally issued to be no more than 10% of the employee's disposal income although a greater percentage may be deducted with the written consent of the individual involved.

DTA Overpayments - DTA overpayments are the recovery of overpayments made by the Department of Transitional Assistance under MGL Chapter 18, Section 30.

DMA Reimbursements - DMA Reimbursements are reimbursements of medical assistance for health services to children provided by the Division of Medical Assistance pursuant to MGL Chapter 118E, Section 23.

Court Ordered Employer Wage Garnishments - Court ordered employer wage garnishments are garnishment orders that direct the employer (Departments of the Commonwealth) to garnish an employee's pay. The garnishment order must come from a legal, court or administrative entity AND specifically identify the employer as the Commonwealth. Court papers that do not name the Department as the employer and mandate a garnishment cannot be honored. Voluntary wage garnishments entered in court between an employee and a creditor are not court ordered wage garnishments but are considered voluntary and cannot be honored. Summons for "Trustee process" and out of state court ordered wage garnishment must be submitted immediately to the Attorney General's office for review to determine if there is a legal obligation for the Commonwealth to honor the wage garnishment.

Disposable Earnings Subject to Garnishments - Disposable earnings are that part of an employee's earnings remaining after deductions required by law are taken. It is used to determine the amount of an employee's pay that is subject to garnishment. The maximum allowable garnishment differs according to the type of garnishment order. In all cases, however, the disposable earnings must exclude deductions required by law: federal taxes, state and local taxes, and retirement contributions. When an employee's wages are not enough to satisfy the garnishment(s), a "partial" amount will be taken. No garnishment will be taken in arrears.

    Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Orders (Personal Bankruptcy Orders)

There is no limit in disposable earnings subject to a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy order. Departments should immediately confirm any limits in writing with the Bankruptcy Trustee.

IRS Tax Levies

For IRS tax levies, the amount remaining from net pay after any exempted amounts (deductions required by law) is sent to the IRS to satisfy the levy. The individual can claim amounts to be exempt based on tax filing status.

Child Support Orders

For Child Support orders, the maximum garnishment amount is between 50% and 65% of disposable earnings:

  • If the employee is supporting a spouse or dependent child other than those for whom a garnishment order is served, the maximum garnishment amount is 50%.
  • If the employee is not supporting a spouse or dependent child, the maximum garnishment amount is 60%.

If the employee is deemed to be in arrears for an order prior to the previous twelve-week period, the amounts above increase to 55% and 65% respectively. For those employees with multiple garnishment orders for child support, it is the Department's responsibility to withhold the maximum amount possible from the employee's wages. DOR Child Support Enforcement will be responsible for allocating the withheld amounts to the custodial parents.

DOR Tax Levies

For DOR Tax levies, the maximum garnishment amount is 25% of the employee's disposable income. The definition of disposable income for this type of garnishment is gross pay minus taxes, retirement and any child support payments.

Spousal Support Orders

Spousal support garnishment orders not involving children follow the same guidelines for disposable earnings as Child Support orders listed above.

Student Loan Repayment

Garnishment orders for unpaid student loans are generally issued to be no more than 10% of the disposable income after taxes and retirement are deducted.

DTA Overpayments and DMA Reimbursements

For the repayment of DTA overpayments and DMA reimbursements, the maximum garnishment amount is either 25% of the employee's disposable earnings (gross pay minus taxes and retirement), or the amount by which the disposable earnings exceeds 30 times the minimum hourly wage, whichever amount is less.

Court Ordered Employer Wage Garnishments

Court ordered employer garnishment orders follow the same guidelines for disposable earnings as Child Support orders.

Employee with Multiple Jobs

When a garnishment order is issued to an employee who holds multiple jobs, the employee must indicate which wage payment the garnishment will be deducted from. The wage payment selected must be able to satisfy the biweekly garnishment deduction.

Wage Garnishments:

  • Are administered by the Office of the Comptroller;
  • Are mandated by court order, federal/state tax levy or other legal entity to be deducted by the employer;
  • Are potentially deducted from all Commonwealth employees;
  • Are submitted through an employee's payroll office and entered by the Office of the Comptroller in HR/CMS;
  • Require a Garnishment Data Input Form and where applicable, a Garnishment Payee Request Form;
  • Are deducted in every biweekly pay period; and
  • Are deducted on a mandatory post-tax basis.
  • All original copies of garnishment orders and related documentation must be retained at the Department for 7 years following the final garnishment payment.
  • Must be discontinued by the Department upon an employee's retirement, termination or death.

The Human Resources Division (HRD) is required to report new hires to the Department of Revenue (DOR) every 14 days. The Information Technology Division (and UMS) will submit a new hire report to DOR for state and contract employees on a pay period basis on behalf of HRD.

Discharge of Garnishment

Garnishments may not be modified (increased or reduced) or cancelled at the employees request, but may only be modified by an amendment from the entity that submitted the original garnishment order (unless ordered to be stayed by a Bankruptcy Court Trustee)

The employer may not discharge a garnishment without an order authorizing the discharge. However, HR/CMS will halt garnishments with a specific total obligation once that obligation has been met. A release must be received by the Commonwealth in order for the garnishment to be closed.

Retirement/Termination or Death

The Comptroller's Office will, upon retirement/termination or death, discontinue garnishing from future payouts effective same date regardless of future temporary employment (IE 120 Day Appointments/ Intermittent Employees).

Garnishment Data Input Forms and Garnishment Payee Request Forms can be found on the Comptroller's website: http://www.state.ma.us/osc/Payinfo/payroll/FormsOnDemand.htm

Internal Controls

Information Sources

  • Related Procedure - None
  • Legal Authority
    • 26 USC §6331- IRS Tax Levy
    • 15 CFR §1673 - Restrictions on Garnishment
    • 20 CFR §1095a - Student Loan Repayment
    • 11 USC §1301 et al Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Law
    • Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 7A, Sections 3, 7, 8 - State Accounting System
    • Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 18, Section 30 - DTA Overpayments
    • Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 29, Section 31- Salaries
    • Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 62C, Section 53 - DOR Tax Levy
    • Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 118E, Section 23 - DMA Reimbursements
    • Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 119A, Section 12 - Child Support Order Wage Garnishments
    • Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 119, Section 28 - Payment of Support
    • Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 207 - Marriage/Domestic Relations
    • Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 208 - Divorce
    • Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 209 - Married Persons
    • Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 209A - Abuse Prevention
    • Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 209C - Children Born Out of Wedlock
    • Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 209D - Interstate Family Support Act
    • Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 246 - Trustee Process
    • Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 273, Section 18A - Support Obligations Under Prior Law
  • Attachments - None

November 1, 2006 - Removed language referencing Knowledge Center and updated relevant links to Mass.gov/osc portal site.

Mandatory and Voluntary Deductions: Wage

Ray
Ray, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 44,436
Experience: 30 years in civil, probate, real estate, elder law
Verified
Ray and 87 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Ask your own question now
Customer reply replied 9 years ago
If I am understanding this correctly, a creditor can not garnish wages. Correct?
Lawyer: Ray, Lawyer replied 9 years ago
I do not see them listed above..
Ask Your Own Legal Question
Ask Ray Your Own Question
Ray
Ray
Ray, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 44,436
44,436 Satisfied Customers
Experience: 30 years in civil, probate, real estate, elder law

Ray is online now

A new question is answered every 9 seconds

How JustAnswer works:

  • Ask an ExpertExperts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional AnswerVia email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction GuaranteeRate the answer you receive.

JustAnswer in the News:

Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.

What Customers are Saying:

Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises!

Gary B.Edmond, OK

My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer.

EricRedwood City, CA

I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight.

MichaelWichita, KS

PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent.

Three H.Houston, TX

Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!!

ElaineAtlanta, GA

It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem.

TonyApopka, FL

Not only did he answer my Michigan divorce question but was also able to help me out with it, too. I have since won my legal case on this matter and thank you so much for it.

LeeMichigan

< Previous | Next >

Meet the Experts:

Tina

Tina

Lawyer

8,775 satisfied customers

JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.

Ely

Ely

Counselor at Law

24,353 satisfied customers

Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.

INFOLAWYER

INFOLAWYER

Attorney

20,727 satisfied customers

Licensed attorney helping individuals and businesses

JPEsq

JPEsq

Attorney

2,132 satisfied customers

Experience as general attorney, in house counsel, SSDI, Family Law attorney, and law professor

Law Educator, Esq.

Law Educator, Esq.

Attorney

42,358 satisfied customers

JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law

Ellen

Ellen

Lawyer, Consultant

8,238 satisfied customers

25 years of experience helping people like you.

Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq.

Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq.

Attorney

292 satisfied customers

7+ years of experience handling various legal matters.

< Previous | Next >

Related Legal Questions
I just have a quick question. If my exhusband who has
I just have a quick question. If my exhusband who has primary custody of my daughter moves within the same city and doesn't give me the address in writing within the 30 day requirement, what am I able… read more
Olivia Kent
Olivia Kent
Managing Partner
Doctoral Degree
1,933 satisfied customers
Can a small business advertise costs for a lower price in an
Can a small business advertise costs for a lower price in an online media, and a higher price in a more traditional media? … read more
Roy Hadavi
Roy Hadavi
Attorney
Juris Doctorate
980 satisfied customers
I recently inherited two houses,sold one after my husband
I recently inherited two houses,sold one after my husband signed off his claim to it through community property, but then I put the money in a joint savings bank account with my husband I am planning … read more
Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
7,285 satisfied customers
In 2007 I was arrested for DUI in Lone Pine California. I
In 2007 I was arrested for DUI in Lone Pine California. I have failed to appear and at one time was jailed on the FTA warrant for 1 full week. My wife has dementia and should not be driving, so I must… read more
LegalKnowledge
LegalKnowledge
Juris Doctor
28,082 satisfied customers
I would like to move my Civil Suit to a trial by jury.
I would like to move my Civil Suit to a trial by jury. … read more
Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq.
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
42,358 satisfied customers
I believe that my mother sold her house to one of my
I believe that my mother sold her house to one of my siblings well under market value because she was under duress. I would like to file a petition on her behalf To have the contract voided and have h… read more
Dwayne B.
Dwayne B.
Juris Doctor
28,678 satisfied customers
We talk about my deceased father estate yesterday he don't
We talk about my deceased father estate yesterday he don't have a will so were do I go from here… read more
LawGuy
LawGuy
Juris Doctor
123 satisfied customers
My civil case was dismissed without prejudice. Can I file a
My civil case was dismissed without prejudice. Can I file a Motion in Limine to have some personal medical documents destroyed after the fact? … read more
Phillips Esq.
Phillips Esq.
Attorney
Juris Doctor
18,299 satisfied customers
Can i receive compensation for the distress of dealing with
can i receive compensation for the distress of dealing with a business even if they are a company form a different country … read more
Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
7,285 satisfied customers
I was trying to help a couple out for as few months to help
I was trying to help a young couple out for as few months to help them get on their feet. They moved into my rental property and we did NOT execute a lease as it was to be short term. Now they won … read more
LawGuy
LawGuy
Juris Doctor
123 satisfied customers
In the state of Georgia when spouse dies the remaining
In the state of Georgia when spouse dies the remaining spouse must pay for funeral, this is consider debt correct Hello my name is ***** ***** for being rude … read more
RobertJDFL
RobertJDFL
Attorney
Juris Doctorate
5 satisfied customers
Why is the law such an? The Commonwealth of. Not that i know
why is the law such an ass? JA: What state are you in? It matters because laws vary by location. Customer: The Commonwealth of Virginia JA: Has anything been filed or reported? Customer: Not that i kn… read more
INFOLAWYER
INFOLAWYER
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
20,727 satisfied customers
I have a divorce case pending in the court. I checked the
I have a divorce case pending in the court. I checked the status online and the last update I see on my case is " Notice of Noncompliance Minn Gen R Prac 11.04 Index # 12"What does that notice mean? I… read more
Bill Attorney
Bill Attorney
law
1,579 satisfied customers
TO: LEGAL GEMS Another CHallenge: ... it's in regards of a
TO: ***** ***** Another CHallenge: ... it's in regards ***** ***** vehicle accident that I was involved in and because I only had a Wisconsin basic/liability car insurance and the guilty party (the ot… read more
LegalGems
LegalGems
Juris Doctorate
10,631 satisfied customers
I had 2 dogs that gave done 8000+ damage to my new vehicle
I had 2 dogs that gave done 8000+ damage to my new vehicle in my driveway trying to kill a cat. The same dos killed a kitten in front of me 2 years earlier, have ravaged my front porch looking for cat… read more
P. Simmons
P. Simmons
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
35,265 satisfied customers
I have a legal question about a work situation. Texas. It's
No. It's more along the lines of ethical. It's a possible situation. It hasn't actually happened yet … read more
Ray
Ray
Lawyer
44,436 satisfied customers
Can I hire a lawyer to create a formal termination letter
can I hire a lawyer to create a formal termination letter that includes a demand for the return of company property/belongings? … read more
Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq.
Attorney
Doctoral Degree
42,358 satisfied customers
What is the statue of limitations to be convicted of selling
What is the statue of limitations to be convicted of selling marijuana in missouri? … read more
Bill Attorney
Bill Attorney
law
1,579 satisfied customers

DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).

Show MoreShow Less

Ask Your Question

x