FAQs About IRS Garnishment and Social Security

Garnishment is one of the IRS collection tools. The Service can go after a portion of your paycheck, but you might be surprised to learn it can also go after Social Security benefits in retirement as part of its asset seizure efforts. Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) cannot be taken to pay off back taxes however.

What to know more about the Federal Levy Payment Program? In this FAQ, we will answer some of more questions about IRS garnishment practices.

How Much Of My Monthly Benefit Can The IRS Take?

15 percent. Monthly Old-Age and Survivors benefits are levied until the balance owed is paid in full. This can include any penalty and interest amount.

The Service will not automatically deduct the 15 percent from SSA Disability Insurance Benefits.

What Notice Will I Receive?

The IRS will send you multiple letters before taking a portion of your Social Security. A final notice will let you know that the Service intends to start levying your benefits.

It is crucial to read each and any notice you receive from the IRS. If you have questions, follow up with a tax attorney who may be able to help you avoid a garnishment.

Do I Have The Right To Appeal?

Yes, you have 30 days from the date of the notice.

You can complete Form 12153, Request for a Collection Due Process or Equivalent Hearing. On the form you need to identify why you disagree with the amount due. Some reasons might be:

  • You qualify for Innocent Spouse relief
  • The amount is incorrect and you have not had a chance to dispute it
  • You have entered an installment agreement or are waiting on an offer in compromise

Thirty days is not a lot of time. Act quickly if you worry the IRS made a mistake (*link to does IRS make mistakes page) or you might qualify for relief.

Keeping Your Needed Income

If you are on a fixed income, 15 percent may force you to make very difficult decisions about what to cut. Get legal help before skimping on medications because your benefits no longer cover all your expense. Complete our form to set up time to discuss your situation with a tax attorney.

Our skilled attorneys provide tax defense representation nationwide.