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Understanding wage garnishment

Oregon residents who have struggled to make ends meet in recent years due to unemployment, high medical bills or other situations understand the challenges that can result. High debt can lead to consideration of bankruptcy or repossession of a vehicle. Some creditors may also choose to garnish your wages in order to reclaim some of the debt owed to them.

Garnishment of wages is actually more involved than the term may imply. When an order is approved for your wages to be garnished, the amount is based not solely upon your wages but also includes any commission, bonuses, salary, retirement and pension that you are paid. For debts owed to any government entity, such as state or federal taxes, no court order is even required to have your wages garnished.


While the amount of money to be garnished is not supposed to be excessive so as to create a hardship, it is important to know that all garnishment amounts are taken out of your pre-tax paycheck. Additionally, you are still assessed all taxes on those funds. In addition to taxes, other common debts that are paid through garnishments include unpaid alimony, child support and student loans. Private debts can also be recouped in this manner.

If you are facing garnishment due to missed payment, loss of income or other financial challenges, it may be helpful to seek legal advice before letting the problem get out of control. Finding a person with the right experience can offer you some valid options for your situation.

Source: Forbes, “Taxes From A To Z (2014): G Is For Garnished Wages,” Kelly Phillips Erb, March 14, 2014

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