Skip to main content

Can the State of California garnish my wages for back taxes?

Kansas City, MO |

When I was in the military (Navy) I was station at Lemoore, Ca for 4 years. While I was station in Ca. I bought and sold some stocks via, Scottrade. The State of California tells me that I own them taxes on the stock that I bought and sold, but I never been a resident of the State of California. I'm a resident of Missouri.

+ Read More

Attorney answers 3


Yes, the State of California can garnish your wages. They can also seize bank accounts and intercept federal tax refunds. Nobody here can be sure about your situation without more information, but the first step is probably to file a California Income Tax return (either From 540 or 540NR depending on the facts).

What probably happened is that your brokerage sent a 1099 to California showing the stock sales, and no return was filed to explain the transactions. If you lived in California while you were stationed here, they probably have a decent argument that you were a resident. In cases like this, filing a CA return reporting your cost basis in the stock sales might significantly decrease your tax due.

Speak to a tax professional and discuss filing CA returns for the years you were here. Good luck and thank you for your service.

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.

Robert J. Hoffman

Robert J. Hoffman


*Form 540, not From.


If you were stationed in CA then you may be considered a resident of the state. And it sounds like the stock was reported to the state via the broker (Scottrade) but there may be information missing on your return showing what you paid for it and exactly what the gain (or loss) was. The CA Franchise Tax Board is very aggressive in pursuing tax collections at this point. You might benefit from the assistance of a tax professional to sort it out because CA can garnish your wages if there are taxes owed.

Good luck.

Evan A. Nielsen is licensed to practice law in California and handles federal tax matters throughout the U.S. The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice for a particular matter. This response does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult an attorney.


More information is needed to fully answer this question. I would contact an attorney. They would be able to review this situation with you (make sure the garnishment is proper and for the proper amount) and advise you on your possible courses of action.

Good luck!

*** If you like my answer, please mark it as the best answer.

C. Curran Coulter II, J.D.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
8000 Maryland Ave., Suite 1060
St. Louis, Missouri 63105
Office: (314) 721-1116
Fax: (314) 725-1026

Legal disclaimer: The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of Missouri and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Responses are based solely on Missouri law unless stated otherwise.