Garnishment Scam

Today TaxMama hears from Phyllis in Florida with this problem. “Is it legal to garnish wages for 1997 state taxes? I didn’t know anything about them until recently, when I received a collection letter from an agency. I thought for sure it was a scam because so much time had lapsed.”

Dear Phyllis,

Find out from the state in question if these are really taxes you owe. Go back to source to get the proof of the taxes due.

You don’t say who is garnishing your wages. Is it a state agency? Or is it a collection agency?

A state, depending on their arrangements with the courts in your state, has the right to collect taxes as long as their statutes of limitations on collections are open. States have different time frames during which they may collect. For instance, California’s is either unlimited, or 30 years, I am not sure which. Either way, it’s a lifetime.

If it’s a collection agency, you may want to have an attorney get an injunction to prevent the garnishment. Or you may want to go to court to sue the collections agency. It’s quite possible that the collections agency does NOT have the right – if they cannot prove the actual tax liability to the court’s satisfaction. Consult with an attorney for some guidance.

There are some interesting twists in collections laws as it relates to agencies. And some agencies operate aggressively because the debtor doesn’t know enough to stop them.

And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about wage levies and other tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At

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