How to Stop a Garnishment in Arkansas

No one likes to feel out of control, at the mercy of someone or something else through wage garnishment. Unfortunately, for thousands of workers in the United States, that is the reality of their financial situation. Through an invasive process known as “wage garnishment,” a single creditor may take a large percentage of a person’s paid wages. What’s more, garnishments are not limited to one creditor per person – multiple creditors may latch on to a single wage earner and sap separate percentages of that person’s wages.  No person likes it when a creditor gets a wage garnishment order and is prepared to garnish your wages. 

Wage garnishment is far more common than most people realize. ADP, one of the largest payroll administration companies in the country, found that 7.2% of workers using their services had their wages garnished. That number rose to 10.5%, more than one in ten workers, in the population of 35-44 year-olds. (Source: https://www.adp.com/resources/articles-and-insights/articles/t/the-us-wage-garnishment-landscape-through-the-lens-of-the-employer.aspx) 

How much of my wages can be garnished in Arkansas?

While there is a federal wage garnishment law that limits the maximum percentage that can be garnished from a person’s wages. So, federal law controls in Arkansas (with one exception, see below): If your disposable earnings are 30 times minimum wage or less, your wages can’t be garnished. If your disposable earnings are more than 30 times the federal minimum wage, your creditor can only take that amount over minimum wage or 25% of your disposable earnings, whichever is less. (15 U.S.C. § 1673).

Example of Federal Wage Garnishment Law

The current federal minimum hourly wage is $7.25 per hour (as of January 2021). If you make $500 per week after your required deductions, then 25% of your disposable income is $125. Thirty times the federal minimum wage is $217.50. The amount that your income exceeds that is $282.50 ($500 – 217.50). Because $282.50 is more than $150 your ages can be garnished at $150 per week.

Arkansas Garnishment Exception

If you are a laborer or mechanic, you get more protection from garnishment in Arkansas: 60 days of your wages are exempt if your total exemption doesn’t exceed the amount exempt under the state constitution. Then, the first $25 per week of your net wages is exempt. (Ark. Code Ann. §16-66-208).

Bank Garnishment

Garnishment is not limited to wages – bank accounts are also vulnerable to garnishment and are far less protected than wages. “Bank levies,” as they are called, allow creditors to tap directly into the bank accounts of the people that owe them money with much less oversight by the government.

Wage garnishment is a huge issue in the United States, where many people are living paycheck to paycheck. (Source: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/most-americans-are-one-paycheck-away-from-the-street-2016-01-06). Individual creditors who obtain garnishments typically do not care that taking a large percentage of a person’s paycheck will often take away their ability to make ends meet. In fact, while federal law will keep a worker with only one garnishment from being fired from his/her job, it will not prevent the same from happening to a worker with more than one garnishment.  

How Does Wage Garnishment Work in Arkansas?  

Wage garnishment typically happens when a creditor has sued a worker and gotten a judgment against the worker for a debt he/she owed.  Next, the creditor has to get a second court order allowing for a wage garnishment.  Finally, the sheriff usually has to serve the garnishment order on the worker’s employer, who then withholds part of the worker’s check for the creditor. 

If money is owed for federal taxes, a court order is not required to garnish wages. In these cases, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sends the debtor a Notice of Demand for Payment, followed by a Final Notice, giving the debtor 30 days to make restitution. If the payment, often called a levy, does not happen soon, the IRS will contact the worker’s employer and begin garnishment. 

Once started, the garnishment will continue until the total amount owed to the creditor is paid off. 

 

How do I find out who is garnishing my wages?

Here are some ideas for finding out who is garnishing your pay:

  1. Look for “Other” or “Miscellaneous” deductions if your pay is lower than usual and you think wage garnishment is occurring. They’re most likely collecting the money owing if you’ve recently been involved in a debt-collection case, or if you owe the IRS cash.
  2. You should inquire with your employer’s payroll department if your wages are being garnished. If they’re withdrawing money from your pay, they must provide you with a copy of the papers. Arkansas employers are required to provide you with a copy of the garnishment paperwork.
  3. Check back through any prior negotiations with creditors. You could discover a reference to wage garnishment in previous correspondence that you missed.
  4. Also, as soon as possible, request a credit report from each credit reporting agency.
  5. Contact the IRS to determine whether your earnings are being garnished. They should have mailed you a garnishment notice.

Conclusion

Seeking legal advice is the best course of action because wage garnishment is itself a case-by-case issue. While there is a general process, you can see that it’s multi-step, detailed, and can be complicated with additional filing deadlines and paperwork. 

However, just because the odds are stacked against workers to stop garnishments from being placed on their wages, that does not mean that they are powerless to stop it. If you’re having trouble paying your bills or making ends meet because of a wage garnishment, we can help. The first step to getting your creditors off your back, and stopping your wages from getting garnished, is giving us a call. If you need help, please don’t hesitate to text or call us for your free no-risk consultation with a bankruptcy attorney. 

wh Law, is a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

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