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Should I receive an IRS refund for garnished wages from 2008 if I wound up not owing?

Lake Elsinore, CA |

Just filed 2008 taxes & should get refund from Fed/State. Wages garnished since Feb. 2008. Will filing stop garnishment? Should I receive a refund on garnished wages paid? I have not filed 2009-2011 yet but should not owe for 2009. Short-sales in 2010 & still renting so may owe for 2010/2011.

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Attorney answers 3


If garnished wages were ONLY due to 2008 tax year (and not other years or other matters), Federal Only,

and if the 2008 return + late fees + penalties are NOT in excess of the amounts garnished by the Federal return only, you may end up with a credit or refund.

State is different because it doesn't open up the possibility of refund upon the filing of the late return as the federal procedure rules allow. Look at the link below and focus on Revenue & Tax Code 19306. Then think about what YOU mean when you say 2008, and whether you mean the 2008 calendar year taxes which were due in 2009. (or the 2007 calendar year taxes due in 2008)

Then focus on the language: "unless before the expiration of that period the Franchise Tax Board allows"..... and then think about delays in processing......

State does not always cooperate readily on refunds....

Your statement "I have not filed 2009-2011 yet" also indicates that they may not stop garnishment if they have computed other taxes owing (even if computed based upon reported gross income & without knowing or giving credit for any of your deductions).

You are letting the state control your tax payments, and the state will apply to 2008 first. The state knows that older tax debts are more likely to be dischargeable in bankruptcy (if the return was filed and other rules met).

As a result, you should file ALL RETURNS without delay REGARDLESS of whether you have the cash for payment. You need to start the statute of limitations (and the potential bankruptcy time periods) on recent years. (note that if Feds do "substitute for return" before you can get your return in, it hurts your future ability to discharge tax debt).

Never delay in filing your taxes. It will become a millstone around your neck.

(you may never decide to do bankruptcy, but by filing your taxes on time it puts ANOTHER safety valve within your grasp in future should you need it).

Find a local CPA/Enrolled agent and finish those delinquent returns without further delay.

Please remember to designate your question's BEST ANSWER.

Please remember to designate your question's BEST ANSWER.

Curt Harrington
Certified Tax Specialist -- State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization
Electrical-Chemical-Mechanical Patent (Intellectual Property) Attorney
(562) 594-9784
About Curt:
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Curt Harrington Patent & Tax Law Attorney Certified Tax Specialist by the California Board of Legal Specialization PATENTAX.COM This communication is general information and not legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This communication should not be relied upon as any type of legal advice. Please note that no attorney-client relationship exists between the sender and the recipient of this message in the absence of either (1) a signed fee contract and (2) remission of an agreed-upon retainer. Absent such an agreement and retainer, I am not engaged by you as an attorney, nor is any other member of my law firm.


Unless you filed an extension in 2009 for the 2008 tax year, you probably won't be able to get a cash refund (although you may get a credit) because the three year time limit has passed. I believe the best action for you to do right now is to file your 2009-2011 returns so you will be 'compliant.' Normally, wage garnisments aren't lifted automatically- someone will have to deal with the IRS so hire a professioanal if possible. Avoid all tax firms that advertise 'pennies on the dollar' settlements and a 'guaranteed' 24 hour lifting of garnishments.


Your fact pattern is not entirely clear. But here are the rules on refunds. You can get refunds:

1. Three years from the filing date of a return by amending;
2. Any amounts paid in the last two years regardless of how many years past the filing date

You may get a refund under 2 for amounts levied in the last two years.

Christopher Larson
Insight Law

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