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A wage garnishment is when your employer is required to withhold some portion of your earnings in order to pay off a debt. Wage garnishments do not include voluntary wage assignments—that is, when you voluntarily agree that your employer may turn over a specified amount of earnings to a creditor or creditors.
Most garnishments are made by court order. The IRS or a state tax collection agency can garnish your wages for unpaid taxes. Your wages can also be garnished if you have defaulted on student loan debt.
Title III of the Consumer Credit Protection Act limits the amount of earnings that can be garnished and protects you from being fired if your pay is only being garnished for one debt.
For questions about wage garnishment, contact the Department of Labor or call 1-866-4-USWAGE (1-866-487-9243) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in your time zone.