Can You Appeal a Wage Garnishment in Pennsylvania?

It is very difficult to escape debts, and wage garnishment is one way that courts make debtors pay up. Wage garnishments can be a significant financial burden and are not always fairly imposed.

When wages are garnished in Pennsylvania, the courts require that a certain percentage of the debtor’s pay is withheld and given to creditors and other debt holders. If your wages are garnished, speak to an attorney to make sure the garnishment is fair and legal. If it is not, your lawyer can help you submit an appeal to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue Board of Appeals. Remember, only certain debts warrant garnishment, and wages can only be garnished up to limited amounts. If an appeal is unsuccessful, you should discuss the possibility of filing for bankruptcy with an attorney. A bankruptcy petition would stop the garnishment and help you manage, pay, and discharge many of your debts.

For a free case review about your wage garnishment situation, call our Pennsylvania bankruptcy lawyers at Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (215) 701-6519.

What Happens When My Wages Are Garnished in Pennsylvania?

Wage garnishment is never a pleasant experience. Often, it comes as a last resort when debtors cannot or will not pay back debts. When a person’s wages are garnished, the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue orders that a certain amount of money is withheld from their paycheck each pay period until the debt is fully paid. If your debts are significant, you might live with garnished paychecks for a long time.

Wage garnishments are an administrative decision rather than a judicial one. This means that the Department of Revenue may impose the garnishment without needing a court order, although a court order might be involved. However, the Department is limited in how much of your wages they can garnish. The limits depend on the nature of your debts, but only a certain percentage may be garnished and no more. For example, if you have unpaid federal student loans, no more than 15% of your wages may be garnished.

Garnishments usually do not go away until the debt in question is paid. However, you can take legal action to appeal a garnishment you believe is unfair, exceeds legal limits, or otherwise violates the law. Our Philadelphia bankruptcy attorneys can help you determine if you have any grounds to appeal the garnishing of your wages.

Appealing a Wage Garnishment in Pennsylvania

You and your attorney must submit a petition to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue Board of Appeals to appeal the garnishing of your wages. Petitions may be filed online or through the mail. Your petition should explain why you are appealing, meaning why the garnishment is unlawful.

You might have various grounds for appeal. For example, Pennsylvania is very restrictive about when wages can be garnished, and only very limited situations warrant the garnishing of earnings. According to 42 Pa.C.S. § 8127(a), wages may only be garnished for debts related to divorce, child or spousal support, board of 4 weeks or less, specific kinds of taxes, student loans, criminal restitution, and back rent on residential lease agreements. If your wages are being garnished for an entirely different reason, you might have grounds for appeal. You should submit any evidence you want to be considered with your appeal petition.

While your appeal is pending, the garnishment will remain on your wages. Garnishments are only removed if the Department decides to end it, the debt is paid, or your appeal is successful. Even if you are actively disputing the garnishment, it will remain in effect, and you will continue to lose wages.

Fighting a Wage Garnishment in Pennsylvania

If your appeal is unsuccessful, you can talk to an attorney about other legal options. In many cases involving wage garnishment, the garnishment is only a Band-Aid solution, meaning there is a much larger financial problem that the garnishment alone cannot solve. One option is to file for bankruptcy.

Contrary to popular belief, filing for bankruptcy is not a punishment nor a shameful process. Bankruptcy is a solution to serious financial problems, particularly severe debt. One critical component of the bankruptcy process is the automatic stay imposed by the courts. Once your bankruptcy petition is filed, the courts issue an automatic stay that prevents creditors from trying to collect on debts. This includes any wage garnishments. In short, a bankruptcy petition should put a stop to the garnishment of your wages, at least for the time being.

You should consider filing for bankruptcy if you have significant debts you cannot pay for. Often in these situations, wage garnishments make the situation harder for petitioners. Talk to an attorney about your financial situation to see if you are eligible for bankruptcy.

Can I Be Fired Over Wage Garnishments in Pennsylvania?

When the Department of Revenue garnishes your wages, your employer must be notified of the situation. Usually, the Department orders an employer to withhold a certain percentage of someone’s pay and remit it to the Department. In some cases, employers might find the entire process more trouble than they are willing to deal with, and they might try to fire you. Rest assured, there are legal restrictions on termination when it comes to garnishments.

Under federal law, your employer cannot terminate you over a single garnishment order. However, federal law does not protect you if you have multiple garnishment orders. Alternatively, you could quit your job to avoid the garnishment. While this is possible, there might be unforeseen consequences. If creditors or the Department of Revenue believe you are deliberately evading paying your debts, they might take more extreme legal action against you. Definitely speak to an attorney before leaving your job over a garnishment order.

Call Our Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Attorneys if Your Wages are Garnished

Call our Warminster, PA bankruptcy lawyers of Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates at (215) 701-6519 to set up an appointment for a free case valuation regarding your wage garnishment and bankruptcy petition.

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Philadelphia, PA

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