Wage Garnishment Laws By State 2021

If a creditor sues a debtor for nonpayment of debt and wins the case, the creditor may garnish the debtor's wages.

What is wage garnishment?

Wage garnishment, also called wage attachment, is a legal process for collecting a monetary judgment for a creditor if a debtor does not pay their debt. It involves a court order that your employer withholds a portion of the debtor's paycheck and send it to the creditor. Non-wage garnishment, known as a bank levy, is when creditors can directly access your bank account.

Garnishment most often happens when a creditor sues a debtor for nonpayment of debt and wins in court; however, a credit may be able to achieve garnishment without a court order.Â

Wage garnishment sources include child support, consumer debts, student loans, and tax levies. Federal limits determine how much of a debtor's income a creditor may take. This depends on the type of debt. For example, about 15% of a debtor's weekly disposable income may be taken for federal student loans and taxes, while up to 50-60% may be taken for child support or alimony. Under federal law, creditors can typically garnish 25% of an employee's disposable earnings or an employee's disposable earning less than 30 times the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour), whichever is less. States have the power to impose stricter limits, but not all do so.

Disposable income or wages is defined as the income remaining after tax deductions and other mandatory charges available to the employee to be saved or spent as they please.

Garnishment begins anywhere between five to 30 days after the court notice, depending on the state and the creditor.

Debtors have rights in the wage garnishment process:

  • Debtor is legally notified of the garnishment.
  • A dispute can be filed with the notice of inaccurate information or if the debtor believes they do not owe the debt.
  • Social security and veterans benefits are exempt from wage garnishment but may not be once they enter the debtor's bank account.
  • The debtor cannot be fired for having one wage garnishment but may be fired if they incur more than one.

Wage Garnishment Laws by State

Below are each state's laws for wage garnishments. Please note that the laws listed below are not complete or comprehensive. Many states have separate laws for wage garnishments concerning child support, student loans, and unpaid taxes. Additionally, states have varying statutes of limitations. If you are facing a wage garnishment judgment, contact an attorney in your state.

Alabama

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages.
  • An employer cannot terminate you or refuse to hire you because of a child support withholding order or one to pay criminal restitution to someone else.

Alaska

  • Types of income exempt from garnishments in Alaska include state or local pensions, many types of public benefits or assistance, some insurance benefits, and alimony.
  • The highest amount that creditors can garnish from an employee is 25% of disposable weekly earnings. Additionally, an individual debtor is entitled to exempt at least $350 of weeks net earnings.
  • An employer cannot terminate, suspend, or discriminate against an employee for having wages garnished.Â

Arizona

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages.
  • An employer cannot terminate you if you have a child support withholding order. New hires and returning, or rehired employees may be required to disclose if they a child support withholding order.

Arkansas

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages.
  • An employer cannot terminate a worker because of garnishment if the worker is a noncustodial parent with an income withholding order.

California

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply for how much money can be garnished from wages except for small variations regarding state minimum wage and a higher multiplier).
  • Federal laws for job firings and hirings apply.

Colorado

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages.
  • An employer cannot terminate an employee for wage garnishments, regardless of how many the employee has.

Connecticut

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • In Connecticut, the highest amounts that can be garnished from wages are the lesser of two options: 25% of your disposable earnings or the amount by which your weekly earning exceed 40 times the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour) or the Connecticut minimum wage ($9.15/hour)
  • An employer cannot terminate an employee unless more than seven executions have been served within one calendar year.

Delaware

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages.
  • Delaware follows federal law for employment and wage garnishment. This means if one creditor garnishes wages, an employee cannot be terminated. However, the protection may no longer apply to multiple garnishments.
  • Additionally, under Delaware law, there may be only one wage garnishment for an individual. If the debtor's wages are already garnished by a creditor, another creditor will not be able to garnish that debtor's wages.

District of Columbia

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • D.C.'s new garnishment law prevents creditors from garnishing wages for anyone earning 40 times the minimum wage ($15/hour) or less. For employees earning more, a gradually inc reading percentage of wages is permitted.
  • It is required for all workers to receive advanced notice regarding wage garnishments so that a reduced paycheck is not their first notice.
  • D.C. follows federal law for employment and wage garnishment. This means if one creditor garnishes wages, an employee cannot be terminated. However, the protection may no longer apply to multiple garnishments.

Florida

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages. In Florida, if your disposable income is less than 30 times the federal minimum wage, your wages cannot be garnished.
  • Florida Head of Family Exemption: If an employee is the head of the family and makes less than $750 per week, wages cannot be garnished. The head of the family must provide more than one-half of the support for a dependent or child.

Georgia

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages.
  • Georgia follows federal law for employment and wage garnishment. This means if one creditor garnishes wages, an employee cannot be terminated.

Hawaii

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • In Hawaii, wage garnishment is calculated based on monthly disposable income: 5% for the first $100; 10% on the next $100; 25% on all disposable income over $200 for the month.Â
  • Hawaii follows federal law for employment and wage garnishment. This means if one creditor garnishes wages, an employee cannot be terminated.

Idaho

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages.
  • In Idaho, an employer cannot ermine employment because of a wage garnishment regardless of how many garnishments the employee has.

Illinois

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • In Illinois, the highest amounts that can be deducted from wages is the lesser of two amounts: 15% of gross wages or the amount of disposable income remaining after deducting the Illinois minimum wage times 45.
  • Illinois follows federal law for employment and wage garnishments. Therefore, an employee cannot be terminated for having one wage garnishment, but the laws won't protect employees with more than one.

Indiana

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages. However, as of July 214, if an individual shows good cause why the amount should be reduced, garnishment could be less than 25% (Ind. Code Ann. § 24-4.5-5-105).
  • An employer cannot terminate an employee in Indiana because of wage garnishments, regardless of how many an employee has.

Iowa

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply for how much money can be garnished from wages; however, Iowa caps the amount a single creditor can garnish in one calendar year. These rules are separated into income brackets: below $12,000/year: up to $250; $12,000-$15,999: to $400; $16,000-$23,999: up to $800; $24,000-$34,999: up to $1500; $35,000-$49,999; up to $2,000; $50,000+: no more than 10% of wages.
  • In Iowa, employers are not allowed to terminate an employee because of wage garnishments.

Kansas

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages.
  • An employer cannot terminate an employee for wage garnishments.

Kentucky

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages.
  • Kentucky follows federal law for employment and wage garnishments. Therefore, an employee cannot be terminated for having one wage garnishment, but the laws won't protect employees with more than one.

Louisiana

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages.
  • Louisiana follows federal law for employment and wage garnishments. Therefore, an employee cannot be terminated for having one wage garnishment, but the laws won't protect employees with more than one.

Maine

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Creditors may garnish the lesser of 25% of an employee's disposables income or the amount by which the employee's disposable wages are more than 40 times the state minimum wage ($11.00/hour).
  • Maine law states that an employer cannot terminate an employee for a wage garnishment; however, it does not state the creditors' number. Employers must consider both state and federal wage garnishment laws and apply whichever gives the debtor/employee more benefits.

Maryland

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply for how much money can be garnished from wages in Queen Anne's, Kent, Worcester, and Caroline counties. In any other county, creditors may garnish the lesser of 25% of the employee's weekly disposable income or the amount by which the employee's weekly disposable earnings exceed $145.
  • In Maryland, an employer cannot terminate an employee for a single garnishment in one calendar year.

Massachusetts

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Massachusetts limits on how much can be garnished are stricter than federal limits. The most that can be garnished is 15% of one's gross wages or disposable income less than 50 times the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour) or the Massachusetts minimum wage ($12.00/hour) per week, whichever is greater.

Michigan

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages.
  • In Michigan, an employer cannot terminate an employee or refuse to hire an individual because of wage garnishment. However, as federal law states, employees are not protected if they have more than one wage garnishment.

Minnesota

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages.
  • In Minnesota, an employer cannot terminate an employee because of a garnishment from a consumer creditor (there is not a specific number of creditors).

Mississippi

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages.
  • Mississippi prevents creditors from garnishing wages for the first 30 days after the court order is served.
  • In Mississippi, an employer cannot terminate or discipline an employee or refuse to hire an individual for wage garnishment for child support.

Missouri

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages. If you are the head of the household, Missouri protects more of your wages.
  • Missouri follows federal law for employment and wage garnishments. Therefore, an employee cannot be terminated for having one wage garnishment, but the laws won't protect employees with more than one.

Montana

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • In Montana, if the employee's weekly disposable earnings are less than $217.50/week, wages cannot be garnished. If weekly disposable earnings are over $217.50 but under $290.00, only the amount exceeding $217.50 can be garnished. If the employee's disposable earnings are over $290.00/week, then no more than 25% can be garnished.
  • Montana follows federal law for employment and wage garnishments. Therefore, an employee cannot be terminated for having one wage garnishment, but the laws won't protect employees with more than one.

Nebraska

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages.
  • Montana follows federal law for employment and wage garnishments. Therefore, an employee cannot be terminated for having one wage garnishment, but the laws won't protect employees with more than one.

Nevada

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Nevada has stricter limits on wage garnishes than federal limits. The highest amount that can be garnished from wages during a given workweek is the lesser of 25% of an employee's disposable income or the amount by which their disposable earnings exceed the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour)
  • An employer cannot fire or discipline an employer because of a wage garnishment order.

New Hampshire

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • New Hampshire law protects disposable earnings greater than 50 times the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour or $362.50/week).
  • New Hampshire follows federal law for employment and wage garnishments. Therefore, an employee cannot be terminated for having one wage garnishment, but the laws won't protect employees with more than one.

New Jersey

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • New Jersey has stricter limits on wage garnishes than federal limits. New Jersey law rules are up to 10% of the employee's income if they earn less than 250% of the federal poverty level for their household's size or up to 25% if the individual earns more than 250% of the federal poverty level.
  • An employer cannot fire an employee because of a wage garnishment order.

New Mexico

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • New Mexico has stricter limits on wage garnishes than federal limits. The highest amount that can be garnished from an employee's wages is the lesser of 25% of their disposable earnings or the amount by which weekly disposable earning exceed 40 times the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour)
  • New Mexico follows federal law for employment and wage garnishments. Therefore, an employee cannot be terminated for having one wage garnishment, but the laws won't protect employees with more than one.

New York

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • In New York, creditors can garnish 10% of an employee's gross wages or 25% of their disposable income that exceeds 30% of the minimum wage ($7.25/hour), whichever is less. If the employee's disposable income is less than 30 times the minimum wage, it cannot be garnished.
  • New York follows federal law for employment and wage garnishments. Therefore, an employee cannot be terminated for having one wage garnishment, but the laws won't protect employees with more than one. In New York State, an employer cannot terminate, refuse to promote, or take negative action against an employee because of wage garnishment.

North Carolina

  • Creditors can only use wage garnishments for unpaid income taxes, alimony, court-ordered child support, arrears, defaulted student loans, unemployment benefit overpayments, ambulance bills (in some counties), garnishment orders from other states.
  • Federal limits apply for how much money can be garnished from wages, except for garnishments by the North Carolina Department of Revenue, which is limited to 10% of an employee's gross wages.Â
  • North Carolina follows federal law for employment and wage garnishments. Therefore, an employee cannot be terminated for having one wage garnishment, but the laws won't protect employees with more than one.

North Dakota

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • In North Dakota, creditors can only garnish the lesser of 25% of the employee's disposable income or the amount by which a debtor's weekly income exceeds 40 times the minimum wage ($7.25/hour)
  • North Dakota follows federal law for employment and wage garnishments. Therefore, an employee cannot be terminated for having one wage garnishment, but the laws won't protect employees with more than one.

Ohio

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Ohio's limits on garnishments mirror federal law, where creditors can take either 25% of disposable earnings or disposable earnings less than 30 times the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour) or $217.50/week. If earnings are over $217.50/week and under $290, the creditor is entitled to the amount over $217.50.
  • Ohio law prevents employers from terminating employees because of one wage garnishment in one calendar year. The law also prevents employers from terminating because of a child-support garnishment.

Oklahoma

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages.
  • In Oklahoma, an employer cannot terminate an employee unless they have more than two garnishments in one year.

Oregon

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages.
  • In Oregon, an employer cannot terminate an employee for having their wages garnished.

Pennsylvania

  • Creditors in Pennsylvania can only use wage garnishments for child or spousal support, obligations relating to a final divorce distribution, back rent on a residential lease, certain types of taxes, student loans, and court-orders restitution in criminal matters.
  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Wage garnishment amount limits vary by type of debt owed. Back rent is limited to 10%; child support up to 60%; student loans up to 15%; unpaid federal taxes depend on dependents and deductions, and unpaid state taxes up to 10%.
  • Pennsylvania follows federal law for employment and wage garnishments. Therefore, an employee cannot be terminated for having one wage garnishment, but the laws won't protect employees with more than one.

Rhode Island

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • The most that can be garnished from an employee's wages in Rhode Island is 25% of the employee's disposable income or the amount by which their weekly disposable earnings exceed 30 times the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour).
  • Rhode Island follows federal law for employment and wage garnishments. Therefore, an employee cannot be terminated for having one wage garnishment, but the laws won't protect employees with more than one.

South Carolina

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • South Carolina has tight restrictions on wage garnishments. Most private parties are prohibited from garnishing for consumer debt (credit card debt, purchase of goods on credit, rental or lease agreements obtained through credit, etc.).Â
  • South Carolina still allows wage garnishment for child support, student loans, and tax debt. Federal limits apply for these garnishments.
  • South Carolina follows federal law for employment and wage garnishments. Therefore, an employee cannot be terminated for having one wage garnishment, but the laws won't protect employees with more than one. Additionally, an employer cannot terminate an employee for a consumer debt garnishment.

South Dakota

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • In South Dakota, the highest amount that can be garnished from wages is 20% of an employee's disposable earnings or the amount by which their weekly disposable earnings exceed 40 times the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour) (less $25/week for each dependent living with the employee for either one).
  • South Dakota follows federal law for employment and wage garnishments. Therefore, an employee cannot be terminated for having one wage garnishment, but the laws won't protect employees with more than one.

Tennessee

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • The most a creditor can garnish from wages in Tennessee is @5% of the employee's weekly disposable income or the amount by which the disposable earnings exceed 30 times the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour). The employee is allowed to protect an additional $2.50 per week for each dependent that lives in the state.
  • Tennessee follows federal law for employment and wage garnishments. Therefore, an employee cannot be terminated for having one wage garnishment, but the laws won't protect employees with more than one.

Texas

  • In Texas, most creditors are not allowed to garnish wages, except for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered alimony and child support, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages.
  • In Texas, an employer cannot terminate or discipline an employee or refuse to hire an employee because of wage garnishment.

Utah

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • According to the Utah law, the highest amount that can be garnished from an employee's wages are 25% of weekly disposable earnings or the amount by which the employee's disposable earnings exceed 30 times the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour)
  • Utah follows federal law for employment and wage garnishments. Therefore, an employee cannot be terminated for having one wage garnishment, but the laws won't protect employees with more than one.

Vermont

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • In Vermont, the highest amount that a creditor can garnish is the lesser of 25% of disposable income (only 15% for consumer credit debts) or the amount by which the employee's disposable earnings exceeds 30 times the minimum wage (40 times for consumer credit debts).
  • Vermont employers cannot terminate an employee because their disposable earnings are subject to a creditor garnishment.

Virginia

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • According to Virginia law, the highest amount that can be garnished from an employee's wages are 25% of weekly disposable earnings or the amount by which the employee's disposable earnings exceed 40 times the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour)
  • Virginia follows federal law for employment and wage garnishments. Therefore, an employee cannot be terminated for having one wage garnishment, but the laws won't protect employees with more than one.

Washington

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Additionally, a creditor may obtain a court order to garnish wages before obtaining a judgment if the debtor is not a Washington resident or is about to move out of Washington; has concealed oneself so that ordinary process of law cannot be served, or has removed or is about to remove any property from the state to delay or defraud the creditor(s).
  • In Washington, creditors may garnish the lesser of 25% of an employee's weekly disposable earnings or their weekly disposable earnings exceeding 25 times the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour)
  • Washington law prohibits employers from terminating an employee because of garnishment or attempted garnishment unless the employee is served three or more garnishments within one year.

West Virginia

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • West Virginia law limits wage garnishments to the lesser of 20% of the employee's disposable earnings or the amount of weekly earnings that exceed 30 times the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour).
  • Employers are prohibited from terminating or disciplining employees because of wage garnishment.

Wisconsin

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • A creditor cannot garnish wages if the debtor receives any type of welfare benefits within the last six months, has a household income below the federal poverty line, or if 25% of earnings are currently being garnished for child support.
  • Additionally, Wisconsin law prohibits the holder of a payday loan from garnishing wages.
  • The highest amount creditors can garnish in Wisconsin is 20% of the employee's disposable earnings or the amount by which their disposable earnings exceed 30 times the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour).
  • Wisconsin law prohibits employers from terminating an employee because of garnishment or attempted garnishment unless they are served three or more garnishments within one year. Additionally, employers cannot terminate, punish, or charge employees a fee for a garnishment.

Wyoming

  • Creditors do not need a court judgment for unpaid income taxes, court-ordered child support, child support arrears, and defaulted student loans.
  • Federal limits apply to how much money can be garnished from wages.
  • Employers may not terminate, discipline, or discriminate against an employee for wage garnishments or because the employer was summoned as a wage garnishee where the employee is the debtor.

Wage Garnishment Laws By State 2021