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Lev, Tax Advisor
Category: Tax
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Experience:  Taxes, Immigration, Labor Relations
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Can the Calif Board of Equalization garnish my social security

Resolved Question:

Can the Calif Board of Equalization garnish my social security benefits in order to collect back taxes for the purchase of cigarettes on the internet?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  Lev replied 5 years ago.


Hi and welcome to Just Answer!

If a creditor other than the federal government tries to garnish your Social Security benefits, inform them that such an action violates Section 207 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 407).

Section 207 bars garnishment of your benefits. It can also be used as a defense if your benefits are incorrectly garnished. Our responsibility for protecting benefits against garnishment, assignments and other legal processes usually ends when the beneficiary is paid. However, once paid, benefits continue to be protected under section 207 of Act as long as they are identifiable as Social Security benefits.

See for reference -


I've read that California Franchise Tax Board CAN garnish social security under some circumstances. Are you sure Board of Equalization doesn't have the same privileges? This is an $800 debt owed from purchase of cigarettes from Indian source that didn't include state cigarette taxes that they now say I'm responsible for.


That is an information from Social Security Administration that I referenced above

Sec. 207. [42 U.S.C. 407] (a) The right of any person to any future payment under this title shall not be transferable or assignable, at law or in equity, and none of the moneys paid or payable or rights existing under this title shall be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other legal process, or to the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency law.

Thus - no garnishment is alowed but only by the federal government and only in following situations


There are a number of circumstances when the Federal government can garnish Social Security benefits. Social Security will garnish benefits:

  • To enforce child support or alimony obligations under 42 USC 659.

  • To enforce a valid garnishment for court-ordered victim restitution under 18 USC 3613.

  • To collect unpaid federal taxes under 26 USC 6334(c).

  • To have a portion of your check withheld to satisfy a current year federal income tax liability under 26 USC 3402 (P).

  • Other federal agencies will offset benefits to collect money from benefits to pay a non-tax debt owed to that agency according to the Debt Collection Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-134).

    States may not garnish social security benefits.
    See this article for detailed explanation -


Sorry to be hard to get along with but the source you referred me to is a lady who I've been trying to get an answer from for the past month and she's totally ignored me. Can't say I have a great deal of faith in her opinions. I don't think she knows the answer any more than I do :)


Above I provided references to
The statute - Sec. 207. [42 U.S.C. 407] (a) -
Here are references to Social Security Administration
You may also contact Social Security Administration by calling 1-800-772-1213 - you can speak to a Social Security representative or toll-free TTY number, 1-800-325-0778, between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Ah, thank you. I'll contact Social Security to verify. Thanks for the suggestion.

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