Imagine creditors being able to take money right out of your paycheck! That’s what happens in wage garnishment situations, where your employer is required to transfer the money you have earned directly to your creditors to pay for your unpaid debt.
While North Carolina has somewhat stronger consumer protections in place than many other states, there are still several ways your wages can be garnished. Read on to discover who exactly can garnish your wages in North Carolina.
The IRS Can Garnish Your Wages
The first in line is the IRS. If you owe unpaid income taxes, the IRS can garnish your wages. In fact, they can continue to take your money until your debt has been paid in full.
The same is true at the state level. If you owe unpaid state income taxes, you can be forced to repay that money by way of wage garnishment as well.
Student Loans in Default
If you have fallen behind with your student loans and have not made other arrangements with the loan servicer, your student loan payments can also be collected through wage garnishment.
Federal income tax debts and federally guaranteed student loans are governed by federal law. They do not even require a judgment in order to be collected through garnishment.
The Providers of Ambulance Services
If you have had to use ambulance services and have not paid for them, the providers of these services can also get a judgment against you to have the unpaid amount collected through wage garnishment.
Another common instance where wage garnishment can be used to collect a debt are cases where someone has failed to pay child support, or has fallen behind with their payments..
Similar to the situation with non-payment or late payments of child support, past-due payments and non-payment of alimony can also result in a judgment to garnish the wages of the person who owes those payments.
What About Other Creditors?
When it comes to other creditors, such as issuers of credit cards, car loans, and other consumer debts, North Carolina laws protect you…to a point. North Carolina credit card issuers and the purveyors of car loans cannot get judgments against you that require your employer to pay them a portion of your paycheck
However, that’s not the end of it. If your creditors, particularly credit card companies, are from out of state, they can still get a judgment against you in another state. And that judgment would then allow them to garnish your wages in North Carolina.
A Burden on the Employer
What about the employer’s side? A wage garnishment requires extra paperwork from the employer. They are allowed to charge a small fee for the additional cost. But could they fire you?
Fortunately, North Carolina laws protect you from getting fired, at least if you have just one judgment for garnishment of your wages. If there are more than one, for example for back taxes, student loans, alimony, and child support, you could well lose your job.
An Alternative to Wage Garnishment in North Carolina
Wage garnishment is not the only way your creditors can collect a debt. Especially creditors that aren’t legally able to garnish wages often resort to another method: withdrawing money from your bank account, either your checking or your savings account.
They can do this by way of a bank levy after they have won a judgment against you, and they can continue to withdraw money until the debt is paid in full, including interest and fees.
The creditors most likely to resort to a bank levy are those who do not qualify for garnishing salaries in North Carolina. They include private creditors, including credit card and car loan companies.
How Much of My Salary Can Be Garnished
Some sources are limited to 10% of your salary. If there are more than one order for wage garnishment, the upper limit is 25% of your net income.
There is also a formula that is calculated based on the current federal minimum wage.If your net income exceeds 30 times the current federal minimum wage, either that amount can be garnished or up to 25%, whichever is less.
It gets worse, though! If you owe child support, up to 50% of your salary can be withheld to pay for it, and possibly up to 60% in some cases.
And that’s not the end of it! There is no such limitation on bank levies, so after the money is deposited in your checking account, your creditors can swoop in and clean it out.
Which Sources of Income Can Not Be Garnished?
There are a few kinds of income that cannot be garnished. They include social security retirement, supplemental security income, and social security disability insurance.
In addition, a range of other kinds of payments cannot be touched, including veterans benefits, railroad retirement benefits, federal civil service retirement benefits, and more.
How Can I Live on What Is Left?
You may well wonder how you are going to survive on what is left, especially if you have multiple creditors garnishing your wages and cleaning out your bank accounts.
How are you going to pay for your housing and living expenses? How will you maintain a professional appearance when you have no money for grooming and maintaining your professional attire or replacing it as needed? What about insurance, health care expenses, and so on You have reason to be concerned
What Can You Do If You’re in Such a Situation?
If you find yourself dealing with wage garnishments and bank levies, go see an experienced wage garnishment lawyer immediately. You need help and information now, so ask for a free consultation and find out possible ways to proceed.
We have handled thousands of wage garnishment and similar cases and have the experience to help you with yours. Call us now, or fill in our contact form. We look forward to speaking with you.