New York Wage Garnishment Laws

New York wage garnishment laws limit the amount that a creditor can take from your wages to repay debts.

By , Attorney · University of Miami Law School
Updated by Amy Loftsgordon, Attorney · University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Creditors can't just seize all of the money in your paycheck. Different rules and legal limits determine how much of your wages can be garnished. Federal law places limits on how much creditors, including judgment creditors, can take. And some states set a lower percentage limit for how much of your wages are subject to garnishment.

New York wage garnishment laws provide borrowers with slightly more protection than federal law, allowing judgment creditors—those creditors who have sued and received a money judgment—to take up to 10% of your gross wages.

But in some cases, depending on the debt type, creditors can take more without first needing to file and win a lawsuit.

What Is the Most Judgment Creditors Can Garnish From My Paycheck Under Federal Law?

Under federal law, the garnishment amount for judgment creditors is limited to 25% of your disposable earnings for that week (what's left after mandatory deductions) or the amount by which your disposable earnings for that week exceed 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage, whichever is less. (15 U.S.C. § 1673).

Some states limit creditors to a lesser amount. Then, the creditor has to follow the state's garnishment laws.

What Is an Income Execution in New York?

In New York, wage garnishments are commonly called "income executions." An "income execution" is an order from a court or a government agency that requires your employer to withhold a certain amount of money from your paycheck for the benefit of your creditor.

The creditor can't take your entire check, though. Legal limits dictate how much of your paycheck a creditor can garnish, depending on the type of debt.

Who Can Garnish Wages in New York?

Creditors with the following types of debt can garnish your wages without doing more:

However, most creditors can't get an income execution order until they first get a court judgment stating that you owe the creditor money.

For example, if you're behind on credit card payments or owe a doctor's bill, the creditor would need first to file a lawsuit, win in court, and receive a money judgment against you before garnishing your wages.

What Are New York's Wage Garnishment Laws?

You can find the New York wage garnishment laws in Chapter 8, Article 52, of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules in the Consolidated Laws of New York.

How Does Wage Garnishment Work in New York?

New York expands the federal limits slightly, offering a bit more protection to wage earners. Here are the rules.

What Are the Limits on Wage Garnishment in New York?

In New York, a creditor can garnish the lesser of 10% of your gross wages or 25% of your disposable income to the extent that this amount exceeds 30 times the federal or state minimum wage (whichever is greater). If your disposable income is less than 30 times the minimum wage, it can't be garnished at all. (N.Y.C.P.L.R. § 5231).

What Are "Disposable Earnings"?

"Disposable earnings" are those wages left after your employer has made deductions required by law. (N.Y.C.P.L.R. § 5231). Examples of legally required deductions are federal, state and local taxes, Social Security, and the employee portion of state unemployment compensation insurance. Deductions that are not required by law don't count to reduce your disposable income.

Child Support, Federal Student Loans, and Unpaid Taxes Limits

If you owe child support, student loans, or taxes, the government or creditor can garnish your wages without getting a court judgment—and the maximum garnishment amount is different too.

Child Support

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.

Federal law limits the garnishment to up to 50% of your disposable earnings 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 can be garnished for support payments over 12 weeks in arrears. (15 U.S.C. § 1673, N.Y.C.P.L.R. § 5241).

Defaulted Student Loans

If you're in default on a federal student loan, the U.S. Department of Education or any entity collecting for this agency can garnish up to 15% of your pay. (20 U.S.C. § 1095a(a)(1)). This kind of garnishment is called an "administrative garnishment."

But you can keep an amount that's equivalent to 30 times the current federal minimum wage per week. (Federal law protects the level of income equal to 30 times the minimum wage per week from garnishment.) (15 U.S.C. § 1673).

Unpaid Taxes

The federal government can garnish your wages without a court judgment if you owe back taxes. The amount will depend on how many dependents you have and your deduction rate. (26 U.S.C. § 6334(d)).

States and local governments can also garnish your wages to collect unpaid state and local taxes. Contact your state labor department to find out more and check out the New York Department of Taxation and Finance website.

Job Firings and Wage Garnishments

Complying with wage garnishment orders can be a hassle for your employer, and some might be inclined to terminate your employment. State and federal law provide some protection for you in this situation.

Under federal law, your employer can't discharge you if you have one wage garnishment. (15 U.S.C. § 1674). But federal law won't protect you if you have more than one wage garnishment order.

In New York, your employer can't fire you, refuse to promote you, or take negative action against you solely because of an income execution. (N.Y.C.P.L.R. § 5252). Check with a local attorney to find out more about state protections.

What Are the Consequences of Wage Garnishment?

The most obvious consequence of a wage garnishment is a reduction in your take-home pay. A smaller paycheck can affect your ability to cover basic living expenses, potentially leading to difficulties paying your monthly bills.

Also, while a wage garnishment won't appear on your credit reports, creditors do report delinquent debt to the credit reporting agencies. And the reports can include information about how the debt is being collected, including through a wage garnishment. The missed payments culminating in a wage garnishment and other negative information will generally stay on your credit reports for seven years, affecting your future financial opportunities and potentially hindering your efforts to rebuild your credit.

Beyond the financial strain, the emotional consequences of wage garnishment can be taxing. Knowing that some of your earnings will be garnished can lead to stress and anxiety. Seeking advice from a lawyer and exploring ways to resolve the underlying debt or work out payment terms can lessen some of these pressures.

How to Protect Yourself From Wage Garnishment

If you receive a notice of a wage garnishment order, you might be able to protect (exempt) some or all of your wages by filing an exemption claim with the court or raising an objection. The procedures you need to follow to object to a wage garnishment depend on the type of debt that the creditor is trying to collect, as well as the laws of your state. But usually, you must act quickly. File the required form as soon as possible. You might have to go to a hearing, but if you win, a judge might eliminate or reduce the garnishment.

Depending on the type of debt that's being garnished, you might have other options. For example, if the IRS is garnishing your wages because of overdue taxes, you can make a settlement offer (an "offer in compromise") or set up a payment plan.

And you can often stop garnishments by filing for bankruptcy. Your state's exemption laws determine the amount of income you'll be able to keep.

Talk to a lawyer to learn more about how you can protect your wages.

Read More Articles

Learn about wage garnishments for credit card debt.

Find out if a mortgage company can garnish your wages after foreclosure.

Get information about when a creditor will stop garnishing wages.

More Information on New York Income Execution Laws

You'll find additional information on New York wage garnishments on the New York State Department of Labor website.

Talk to a Lawyer

For information specific to your situation, or to get help objecting to a garnishment, contact a local debt relief attorney.

Get Professional Help
Get debt relief now.
We've helped 205 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you