Understanding Tax Garnishment: How to Check If Your Tax Return Will Be Affected

Mar 23, 2023

Tax garnishment is the process where a creditor can legally seize part of a taxpayer’s wages, bank accounts, or other assets to pay for an outstanding debt. During tax season, this garnishment process can cause complications and delays in receiving your tax return if the normal tax preparation process isn’t followed.

Understanding how to check if your return will be affected by a tax garnishment is important. There are several ways you can detect whether any of your assets are subject to a tax lien or levy – such as reviewing your credit report for unpaid debts or contacting the IRS – that will allow you to prepare accordingly.

Understanding and taking proactive steps toward managing potential tax garnishment can help ensure that you don’t experience any unexpected financial setbacks during the tax season.

What is Tax Garnishment?

A tax garnishment is a serious legal action, initiated by the Internal Revenue Service that allows them to seize a portion of your wages in order to satisfy an outstanding tax debt. An employer can be legally required to comply with the terms of a tax garnishment without requiring court approval.

The effects of this can be devastating, as most wage garnishments are recorded on public records and may even appear on your credit report. Thankfully, an employer cannot fire you over a first-time wage garnishment; however, they can still take action if the debt remains unpaid.

How Tax Garnishment Works

A wage garnishment is a court-ordered legal process that requires an employer to withhold a certain percentage of an employee’s wages and send them directly to the creditor that issued the order. This allows creditors to collect on a debt owed by the employee without having to take further legal action.

Depending on the laws in your state, typically, up to 25% of your gross wages can be taken to satisfy debt obligations. These deductions are made until the debt is satisfied or until new payment arrangements are made with the creditor.

Wage garnishments can also be applied to social security, disability, pension, and other benefits that employees may receive. It’s important to remember that it’s not only delinquent accounts such as unpaid bills, credit cards or medical expenses that can lead to garnishments; back taxes and child support payments could also be subject to this type of enforcement.

Who Can Garnish Your Tax Refund?

Individuals and private creditors do not have the authority to take a taxpayer’s refund as payment toward a debt. This is prohibited by federal law. However, state and federal government agencies do have this authority when it comes to unpaid taxes or other debts owed to them.

Garnish Your Tax Refund


When money is taken from an individual’s tax refund, it can be used to satisfy any outstanding balances that the taxpayer may owe to a state or federal governmental agency. In some cases, if the amount of debt exceeds the refund amount, then additional payment may be required by the individual in order to pay off their total balance.

How to Check if Your Tax Return Will be Affected

When it comes to filing your taxes, you want to make sure everything is in order and that you’re getting all the important information. But what happens when something changes and you don’t realize it until after the fact? It’s important to check if your tax return will be affected by any new information before filing.

By taking the following steps and looking over tax guides, you can ensure that your tax return will reflect all necessary details so that there are no surprises when you complete the filing process.

Checking With the IRS

Suppose you are concerned about any tax offsets that may be pending on your social security number. In this case, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides a useful toll-free number, (800) 304-3107, which allows you to quickly and conveniently obtain information regarding any offsets.

You can call this number at any time and use the automated prompts to determine if there are any offsets that need to be paid or if an offset is already in process. It’s important to remember that while this service is offered as a convenience, it does not replace speaking with a qualified tax expert who may better answer questions about more complex tax issues.

However, for simple inquiries about possible offsets, the IRS hotline can provide quick answers without having to wait for someone to become available.

Tax Return Will be Affected


Using Online Tools

There are online tools available that can help you determine if your taxes have been garnished. These tools allow you to search records from the IRS and other government agencies quickly so you know for sure if any action has been taken against you.

In addition, many of these services offer additional resources such as advice on how to dispute or appeal the garnishment if necessary. With the help of online tools, you can make sure that any tax-related issues are handled quickly and efficiently in order to protect your financial security and maintain good standing with the IRS.

Checking With Your State Tax Agency

It is important to check with your state tax agency to see if any of your taxes have been garnished. This process can involve a range of services and obligations, including verifying the amount of taxes owed and providing information on who is responsible for collecting them.

Contacting your state tax agency will help you take control of the situation, avoid additional penalties, and protect yourself from potential financial hardships.

Checking With Your Creditors

By contacting your creditors directly, you can ask if any of them have filed for a court-ordered garnishment against you. This will give you an opportunity to take proactive steps to address the issue before it becomes too late.

Additionally, reviewing your credit report can help alert you to potential collections or judgments that might lead to wage garnishments. Knowing this information ahead of time can help guide you toward the best resolution plan for your circumstances.

What to Do if Your Tax Return is Affected

If your tax return is affected and you find yourself owing money, you have several options to consider. Firstly, you should pay the debt as soon as possible to avoid further penalties and interest charges.

Tax Refund


If paying the debt in full is not possible for financial or other reasons, then negotiating a payment plan with the IRS may be an option. If negotiations fail, filing for an appeal with the IRS can help reduce the amount of taxes owed or delay payment until more favorable terms are reached.

As taxes can be tricky and complex matters, seeking professional help from a qualified accountant or lawyer may be wise. They can offer invaluable advice on how to best proceed and help ensure that you comply with all relevant laws and regulations.

Appealing a Tax Garnishment

A Collections Due Process (CDP) hearing provides taxpayers with an opportunity to appeal a final notice of Intent to Levy issued by the IRS within the first 30 days of the notice. This hearing allows you to argue against the levy if there is a violation of IRS procedures, such as failure to make attempts to collect taxes owing through other means before initiating a garnishment.

However, it must be noted that this process cannot be used to dispute the amount of taxes owed; any disputes regarding taxes due should have been addressed prior to receiving the Final Notice. It is, therefore, important for taxpayers to understand their rights and responsibilities in regard to appealing tax decisions and levies.

How to Prevent Tax Garnishment

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can levy a person’s accounts and wages if they fail to file returns and/or pay taxes when due. To avoid this, the best course of action is to file all tax returns on time and make sure any necessary payments are made by the due date.

If more time is needed for filing, individuals should contact the IRS directly to request an extension. Additionally, if the money owed is not able to be paid in full immediately, it’s important to make whatever payments are possible, then arrange with the IRS for a payment plan or other resolution to settle the remaining balance.

Failure to do so could result in a tax garnish or levy being imposed.


Now that you know tax garnishments are a common way for the government to collect taxes, filing on time and correctly is important. With the help of Ultimate Tax, individuals can get the financial assistance they need to make sure all their taxes are paid on time.

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Ultimate Tax offers professional tax preparation services, advice on filing taxes, and help with any other tax-related issues. Taking advantage of these services will help ensure that your finances remain secure and give you peace of mind.

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