Texas law limits the amount that a creditor can garnish (take) from your wages to repay debts. The Texas wage garnishment laws (also called wage attachments) are even stricter than federal wage garnishment laws. In Texas, your wages can't be garnished by creditors unless it's for child support, alimony, taxes, or student loans.
Read on to learn about wage garnishment law in Texas.
A wage garnishment or wage attachment is an order from a court or a government agency that a creditor sends to your employer. It requires your employer to withhold a certain amount of money from your paycheck and forward the funds directly to your creditor.
Different garnishment rules apply to different types of debt and limit the amount a creditor can garnish from your paycheck.
(Learn how wage garnishments work, how to object to wage garnishments, and more in Wage Garnishment & Attachments.)
Federal law places limits on wage garnishment amounts taken from your paycheck. The idea is that you should have enough left to pay for living expenses.
In Texas, most creditors aren't allowed to garnish your wages. However, exceptions exist for:
Also, keep in mind that creditors might still be able to levy or seize your other assets, such as funds in bank accounts, even if they can't garnish your wages. Further, if you work for an out-of-state company or receive your wages from a source outside of Texas, a creditor might be able to domesticate its judgment in Texas and still garnish your wages.
(You can learn about the Texas law that protects property from creditors in Texas Bankruptcy Exemptions.)
If you owe child support, student loans, or taxes, the government or creditor can garnish your wages without getting a court judgment. The maximum garnishment amount 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 creditors can collect child support, see Enforcement of Child Support.)
In Texas, up to 50% of your disposable earnings may be garnished to pay domestic support obligations such as child support or alimony. (Learn more about wage garnishment for child support arrears.)
Under Texas law, “disposable earnings” are those wages left after your employer has made the deductions required by law (such as taxes) as well as for union dues, nondiscretionary retirement deductions, and medical, hospitalization, and disability insurance for you and your children.
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 (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.
(Learn how Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help with tax debt.)
Complying with wage garnishment orders can be a hassle for your employer, and some might be inclined to terminate your employment rather than do so. State and federal law provide some protection for you in this situation.
Federal law prohibits your employer from discharging you if you have one wage garnishment, but not more. Texas strengthens federal law. Your employer cannot fire, discipline, or refuse to hire you because of your wage garnishment.
You can find more about wage garnishment limits in Texas, including the procedures that employers must follow in carrying out wage garnishment orders, on the website of the Texas Workforce Commission at Texas Workforce Commission or the Texas Attorney General.