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Live in NC. Owe taxes for '11, '12, & '13. Will they wage garnish for EACH year?

Greensboro, NC |

I live in NC. I owe state taxes for 2011, and I owe state AND federal taxes for 2012 and 2013. I didn't know I owed for 2011 until late 2012 because I received a refund for that year, so I assumed I was good. But, regardless. I owe a few thousand dollars total. My wages are about to be garnished. My question is, I know both state AND federal can garnish at the same time, 10% each, I believe....but will they garnish 10% for EVERY year? In my case, a total of 30% since I owe 3 years? (10% for 2011, 10% for 2012, and 10% for 2013). Also, I *JUST* got a job after being out of work since March 2013, will my employer fire me for wage garnishments for taxes since it's federal AND state?

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Attorney answers 4


State law typically limits the amount that creditors can garnish. These laws do not apply to the IRS as they are governed by the tax code. This, regarding IRS garnishments, the amount of income not garnished depends primarily on your filing status, the number of exemptions, and the pay frequency. Essentially, the IRS will determine how much of your money to leave you from each paycheck for you basic living expenses. I've never heard of the IRS being limited to 10% - may only apply to North Carolina tax garnishments.
Regarding you employer, it is actually illegal for any employer to fire or threaten to fire you to avoid handling an IRS tax levy.
Lastly, I would strongly recommend hiring a tax attorney to handle this matter. The attorney should be able to temporarily stop the levy and establish a reasonable resolution to you matter.


The federal government will garnish your wages or levy against you bank account where your wages are deposited. The amount the feds take from each check is based on a financial statement you have to submit and the feds willingness to agree/disagree with the statement you provide. You will need to substantiate some of the items depending on the expenses you claim.

Here in NC the state process operates very similarly. The amount the state will take is based more on your ability to pay than a simple percentage garnishment of your income. If you only of a few thousand dollars total between the federal and state government you might employ a CPA at a lower cost to negotiate a payment plan. However, if you can afford a tax attorney and the collective state and federal amounts are more significant than a few thousand dollars than I highly advise hiring a tax attorney in the Greensboro area.

This answer is based on general legal principles only and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. This answer is for informational purposes only and does not constitute the formation of a lawyer-client relationship. Any reader of this answer should not make decisions based upon in without first directly consulting with an attorney


You asked if your employer would fire you over wage garnishments. Your employer may consider a wage attachment a hassle and may threaten to fire you if you don’t settle the debt right away.
However, under Federal law, an employer cannot fire you because your wages are attached to satisfy a single debt. (15 U.S.C. § 1674(a).) Under NC state law, however, you may have protection until you have three or more attachments. I'd have to research that law to give a more specific answer here. Most employers will work with employees who are honestly trying to clear up their debt problems. If your wages are attached, talk with your employer and explain that you are working hard to settle the matter as soon as possible.


You should immediately contact an experienced State and Federal tax controversy attorney from NC so that you can resolve your tax problems with either an installment payment agreement or an offer-in-compromise. Good luck!

The answer to this question does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Moreover, this attorney is licensed to practiced law ONLY in the State of California. Answers to questions from users in other jurisdictions or states are meant to provide only general information. Users should contact a local attorney in their jurisdiction or state to address their specific tax issue.

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