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The IRS garnished my wages without any warning or option to pay. Is this legal?

Pasadena, CA |

I was vaguely aware that I might have owed back taxes due to not filing, but I was never sent any letter or audit. I am willing to pay the back taxes but was not expecting garnishment without notice.

I am disabled and receive very limited SSDI. I am willing to pay these taxes, but would also like to know if it's possible to lower the amount being garnished, as it's very hard to pay my bills with the amount of garnishment due to high cost of living in California.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. I've added "Tax Debt" and "Tax Levy" tags to your post for further exposure.


  2. It is very unusual for the IRS to levy without sending you letters by regular & certified mail. Has your address changed since you last filed a tax return? The IRS only is obligated to attempt to contact you before seizing resources. As you are now finding out, there is very little they cannot take when you get on their bad side. Hope this perspective helps!


  3. It is very unusual for the IRS to garnish wages without contacting you. Normally, they send a series of letters over the course of a few months, culminating with a 'Final Notice of Intent to Levy.' They will send these notices to the address listed on your most recent tax return. Have you moved recently, or since you last filed a return?

    It might be possible to lower the amount of your payment to the IRS, especially if the amount they are garnishing causes a demonstrable hardship. Depending on your situation, you might be able to stop the garnishment by entering an Installment Agreement (a monthly payment plan), making an Offer in Compromise (settling the debt for less than the amount owed), being declared Currently Not Collectible, or by paying in full.

    The remedies available depend entirely on the individual facts and circumstances of your case. For the best results, speak to a licensed tax professional.

    Robert Hoffman is a tax attorney licensed in California. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For competent advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.


  4. Unfortunately the IRS can garnish wages without ever filing a lawsuit. However, if you call them up and set up a payment plan they will usually withdraw the wage garnishment action. Chapter 13 is also an option to create your own tax payment plan.