One way or the other, the IRS gets its money
Being behind on your taxes is nothing to take lightly, and the consequences of non-payment can be harsh. In fact, the Internal Revenue Service has privileges for collecting delinquent debt that few other creditors share.
If you owe money to the IRS, any delay in payment is likely to mean interest and penalties added to the total. However, that may be just the beginning of the burden an unpaid tax bill can cause.
Steps the IRS takes to garnish your wages
Wage garnishment is one way the government can claim the money it says you owe. However, this does not happen right away, and you may be able to negotiate with the IRS for payments or even a reduction of the balance owed. Before the agency places a garnish on your wages, it must follow these steps:
- Send you a Demand for Payment letter: This is your opportunity to contact the IRS and discuss the bill or request a payment plan. If you don’t respond, the IRS moves to the next step.
- Send you a notice that they intend to levy your wages: You have 30 days from this point to pay what is due or to appeal the garnishment. You can’t dispute the amount you owe, but you can appeal the levy if you feel the IRS violated its policies regarding garnishment. If you file an appeal, the levy is halted.
- Contact your employer: At the end of 30 days, if you haven’t responded to the IRS letters, the agency will contact your employer, who will have no alternative but to comply with the garnishment.
Once the wage garnishment begins, the IRS is not as willing to negotiate. It will continue collecting from your paycheck until it reclaims the debt it says you owe. However, you may have a limited number of options left to try.
Is there anything I can do to stop this?
If you have received a notice from the IRS threatening to garnish your wages, time is of the essence. You will want to deal with the delinquent taxes before the government begins dipping into your paycheck. If you are already being garnished, you are probably struggling to pay your bills and other debts after the substantial reduction in your income.
Wage garnishment can be discouraging, but there is help available. Speaking with an attorney who has successful experience dealing with the aggressive tactics of the IRS may provide you with the answers to resolve your tax issues. There are numerous options to consider, and with the guidance of an attorney, you may be able to reach a solution that will restore your peace of mind.