Connecticut law limits the amount that a creditor can garnish (take) from your wages for repayment of debts. The Connecticut wage execution laws (also called wage garnishments or attachments) are even stricter than federal wage garnishment laws. For the most part, creditors with judgments can take only 25% of your wages. However, for a few types of debts, creditors can take more.
Read on to learn about wage execution law in Connecticut.
What Is a Wage Garnishment?
A wage garnishment or wage attachment is an order from a court or a government agency that is sent to your employer. It requires your employer to withhold a certain amount of money from your paycheck and then send this money directly to your creditor.
Different garnishment rules apply to different types of debt -- and there are legal limits on how much of your paycheck can be garnished.
To learn more about how wage garnishments work, how to object to a wage garnishment, and more, see our Wage Garnishment and Attachment topic.
When Can a Creditor Garnish Your Wages in Connecticut?
Most creditors cannot get a wage garnishment order until they have first obtained a court judgment stating that you owe the creditor money. For example, if you are behind on credit card payments or owe a doctor’s bill, those creditors cannot garnish your wages (unless they sue you and get a judgment).
However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Your wages can be garnished without a court judgment for:
- unpaid income taxes
- court ordered child support
- child support arrears, and
- defaulted student loans.
Limits on Wage Garnishment in Connecticut
There are limits to how much money can be garnished from your paycheck. The idea is that you should have enough left to pay for living expenses.
Federal law places limits on wage garnishment amounts. However, Connecticut imposes even stricter limits. This means that in Connecticut, the most that can be garnished from your wages are the lesser of the following two options:
- 25% of your disposable earnings, or
- the amount by which your weekly disposable earnings exceed 40 times the federal hourly minimum wage (currently $7.25/hour) or the Connecticut minimum fair wage (currently $8.70/hour, increasing to $9.15 per houri n 2015), whichever is greater.
“Disposable earnings” are those wages left after your employer has made deductions required by law.
Example. You take home $500 per week after taxes. 25% of your disposable earnings equals $125 and your disposable earnings less 40 times the Connecticut minimum fair wage equals $152. Your creditor can take the lesser amount, which is $125.
Special Limits for Child Support, Student Loans, and Unpaid Taxes
If you owe child support, student loans, or taxes, the government or creditor can garnish your wages without getting a court judgment. The amount that can be garnished is different too.
Since 1988, all court orders for child support include an automatic income withholding order. The other parent can also get a wage garnishment order from the court if you get behind in child support payments. (To learn about income withholding orders and other ways child support can be collected, see Child Support Enforcement Obligations.)
Income withholding for support in Connecticut is limited to 15% of the first $145 you take home each week plus any income that exceeds $145 per week, meaning that you must be left with $123.25 per week with which to support yourself. If you earn less than $145 per week, only 15% of your income ($21.75) can be withheld for support.
Example. You take home $300 per week. 15% of the first $145 equals $21.75 and you earn $155 in excess of $145 per week. Up to $176.75 ($21.75 + $155) can be withheld for support.
Student Loans in Default
If you are in default on a federal student loan, the U.S. Department of Education or any entity collecting for this agency can garnish your wages without first getting a court judgment – this is called an administrative garnishment. The most that the Department of Education can garnish is 15% of your disposable income, but not more than 30 times the minimum wage. To learn more, see the articles in Student Loan Debt.
The federal government can garnish your wages if you owe back taxes, even without a court judgment. The amount it can garnish depends on how many dependents you have and your deduction rate.
States and local governments may also be able to garnish your wages to collect unpaid state and local taxes. Check out the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services at www.ct.gov.drs for more information.
Total Amount of Garnishment
If you have more than one garnishment, the total amount that can be garnished is limited to 25%. For example, if the federal government is garnishing 15% of your income to repay defaulted student loans and your employer receives a second wage garnishment order, the employer can only take another 10% of your income to send to the second creditor.
Restrictions on Job Termination Due to Wage Garnishments
Complying with wage garnishment orders can be a hassle for your employer; some might be inclined to terminate your employment rather than comply with the order. State and federal law provides some protection for you in this situation.
Some states offer more protection for debtors. In Connecticut, your employer cannot fire you unless more than seven executions have been served upon your employer within one calendar year.
For More Information on Connecticut Wage Garnishment Laws
To find more information about wage garnishment limits in Connecticut, including the procedures that employers must follow in carrying out wage garnishment orders, check out the website of the Connecticut Department of Labor at www.ctdol.state.ct.us.