Can a Private Creditor Garnish the IRS for an Income Tax Refund?

Posted almost 2 years ago. 0 helpful votes

Email

By: Kelly A. Karstaedt, Esq.

Isn’t tax season a wonderful time for creditors seeking to collect on a judgment? A time when all that money flowing from the federal government to debtors could go straight into your pocket. Or can it? Can you garnish the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS") in order to take that refund check before the debtor gets a hold of it and the money disappears?

The answer is: NO. A private creditor cannot garnish the federal government for an income tax refund. The idea that the IRS cannot be garnished is based on the federal government’s sovereign immunity stemming from Article III, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. The idea of sovereign immunity was first clearly discussed by the courts in United States v. Clark, 8 Pet. (33 U.S.) 436, 444 (1834) where the Court stated that the United States was not suable as a common right. Subsequent case law has established that the federal government, including all of its departments and agencies, are immune from suit unless said immunity has been waived. Specifically, the IRS cannot be sued without the express authorization of Congress. Blackmar v. Guerre, 342 U.S. 512, 514-15 (1952). The term “sued" has been interpreted to include acts of garnishment.

To find out the answer read on at the link below.

Additional Resources

http://www.jimersoncobb.com/blawg/2013/04/can-a-private-creditor-garnish-the-irs-for-an-income-tax-refund/

Rate this guide

Related Topics

Wage garnishment

Wage garnishment is the process whereby your employer sends part of your paycheck directly to your creditor in order to pay off your debt.

Dorothy G Bunce

Wage Garnishment

If you have a wage garnishment or if your bank account has been attached by a creditor, you may be mad or you may just be frightened. You don't need to be a victim because the law provides... more

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask a Lawyer

Get free answers from experienced attorneys.

 

Ask now

26,422 answers this week

3,264 attorneys answering