How much of my paycheck is the IRS allowed to garnish?

The answer to this question partly depends on what income bracket you're in. As a general rule, if you're in a lower- to middle-class tax bracket, then the IRS is only allowed to deduct a maximum of 25 percent of your paycheck. Even then, the government usually applies a formula that weighs your tax debt against your other obligations (child support, mortgage, medical expenses, etc.), so the percentage may be less, depending on your circumstances.

Make no mistake about it, though: the IRS will take the biggest slice of your paycheck that it can, consonant with your ability to maintain a minimal living standard (and the government's definition of “minimal” probably doesn't agree with your own).

Matters are different, though, if your weekly salary puts you into an upper tax bracket. If, say, you earn $500,000 a year, then the IRS can choose to take more than 25 percent of your paycheck, on the premise that people who earn far less than you get by with far less as well.

In this case, the IRS will not be impressed if you complain that you'll have to sell your vacation home or take your kids out of private school to make up for the huge dent in your paycheck. In the eyes of the government, the only reason you were able to afford an upper-middle-class lifestyle in the first place was because you cheated on your taxes, and they're not going to shed any tears if you have to downsize your expectations.

Are you an Oklahoma resident whose salary has been garnished, or is about to be garnished, by the IRS? Call the Oklahoma tax attorneys at Travis W. Watkins, PC (800-721-7054) for a free consultation today. We'll tell you what you can do to avoid this drastic government penalty.