Mississippi law limits the amount of money that your creditors can garnish (take) from your wages to repay your debts. While the Mississippi wage garnishment law (also called wage attachment) allows your creditors to garnish the same amount as allowed under the federal wage garnishment law, Mississippi law does have a provision which allows you a brief grace period after a garnishment order is received. Most creditors with judgments can take only 25% of your wages, but some types of creditors are permitted to take more.
Read on to learn about wage garnishment law in Mississippi.
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. When your employer receives a garnishment order, it is required to withhold a certain amount of money from your paycheck and send this money 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 Mississippi?
Most creditors cannot get a wage garnishment order until they have first filed a suit against you in court and obtained a judgment indicating that you owe the creditor money. For example, if you are behind on credit card payments or owe a dentist bill, those creditors must first obtain judgments in their favor before they can garnish your wages.
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 Mississippi
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. The states are free to impose stricter limits, but Mississippi has not increased the amount of your wages that is protected. Mississippi law does, however, prevent your creditors from garnishing your wages for the first 30 days after the garnishment order is served. Here are the rest of the rules:
For any workweek, a creditor may garnish the lesser of:
- 25% of your disposable earnings, or
- the amount by which your weekly disposable earnings exceed 30 times the federal hourly minimum wage.
Example. You take home $500 per week after taxes are deducted. 25% of your disposable earnings is $125, and your disposable earnings less 30 times the minimum wage are $282.50. The lesser amount ($125) can be sent to your creditor to repay your debt.
“Disposable earnings” are those wages left after your employer has made deductions required by law.
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 and creditors to whom you owe domestic support or state or local taxes don’t have to wait 30 days to garnish your wages, unlike your other creditors.
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.)
Federal law limits what can be taken from your paycheck for this type of wage garnishment. Up to 50% of your disposable earnings may be garnished to pay child support if you are currently supporting a spouse or a child who isn't the subject of the order. If you aren't supporting a spouse or child, up to 60% of your earnings may be taken. An additional five percent may be garnished for support payments over 12 weeks in arrears. (Learn more about wage garnishment for child support arrears.)
Mississippi law requires that domestic support garnishments be paid with no regard to any other wage garnishments or attachments. This means that a child or spousal support deduction can be taken at the same time and in addition to another garnishment. Further, domestic support creditors don’t have to wait 30 days to take your wages.
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. Contact your state labor department to find out more. (You will find a link to your state labor department below.
In Mississippi, creditors to whom you owe state or local taxes do not have to wait 30 days to garnish your wages.
Total Amount of Garnishment
If you have more than one garnishment, the total amount that can be garnished is 25% (not including domestic support). 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.
According to federal law, your employer cannot discharge you if you have one wage garnishment. However, federal law won’t protect you if you have more than one wage garnishment order.
Some states offer more protection for debtors. In Mississippi, your employer cannot fire, discipline, or refuse to hire you because of a garnishment for child support.
For More Information on Mississippi Wage Garnishment Laws
To find more information about wage garnishment limits in Mississippi, including the procedures that employers must follow in carrying out wage garnishment orders, check out the website of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security at www.mdes.ms.gov/Home/index.html.
To learn more about how wage garnishments work, how to object to a wage garnishment, and more, see our Wage Garnishments & Attachments topic.