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A garnishment is a court action initiated by a creditor in an effort to obtain a part of an employee's earnings before the earnings are turned over to the employee. In a garnishment, an employer is required to withhold from an employee's pay that portion of earnings that is being garnished and pay it directly to the creditor.

The federal garnishment law applies to all employers and employees.

The amount of an employee's wages that may be garnished is limited to 25% of his disposable earnings or the amount by which his disposable earnings exceed thirty times the current minimum hourly wage, whichever is less. Three exceptions are court orders for the support of any person, Chapter XIII bankruptcy orders, and debts due for federal or state taxes. Disposable earnings are those earnings remaining after any amounts legally required to be deducted have been subtracted from an employee's compensation.

Discharge of an employee because of a garnishment for any one indebtedness is not allowed.

In the case of multiple simultaneous orders of garnishment, child or spousal support typically has priority.

If a state has a garnishment law that is more protective to the employee than the federal restrictions, the stronger state law will govern garnishments in that state. is a free online resource featuring a compilation of research, collaboration and web tools for use by payroll professionals and more including information about payroll tax articles, federal tax information and state tax information.

Helpful Hint... Anytime you move or have a major life change (for example - marriage, divorce, birth of a child, etc.) always be sure to complete a new W-4!