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Wage garnishment regulations in Ohio restrict the amount that judgment creditors may deduct from your paycheck.


A “wage garnishment,” also known as a “wage attachment,” is an order that requires your employer to deduct a particular amount of money from your salary and deliver it straight to one of your creditors. Most creditors cannot garnish your salary unless they first get a money judgment from a court. For example, if you fall behind on credit card payments or owe a doctor’s bill, your income cannot be garnished until you litigate and get a judgment. Some creditors, such as those owed taxes, federal student loans, child support, or alimony, do not need to file a lawsuit in order to garnish your wages. These creditors have the legal ability to deduct money immediately from your paycheck.

However, creditors cannot grab your whole salary. The amount of your income that may be garnished is determined by many laws and legal constraints. For example, federal law restricts the amount of judgment creditors may collect. The garnishment amount is restricted to 25% of your disposable weekly earnings (what’s left after obligatory deductions) or the amount by which your disposable weekly earnings exceed 30 times the federal minimum hourly rate, whichever is smaller. (15 U.S.C. § 1673). Some states have a lower % restriction on how much of your salary may be garnished. In general, Ohio wage garnishment rules are the same as federal wage garnishment statutes. However, if you sign into a debt schedule arrangement with a nonprofit debt counseling program and agree to pay them a percentage of your salary, Ohio law shields you from garnishment. The agency will then make payments to your creditors until all of your debts covered by the agreement have been paid off. (See below for additional details on how debt scheduling works).

The creditor will continue to garnish your earnings until you pay off the amount or take action to halt the garnishment, such as filing an exemption with the court. The quantity of money you may keep is determined by your state’s exemption regulations. Depending on your circumstances, you may be allowed to retain some or all of your money. Filing for bankruptcy may also allow you to cease most garnishments.

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Wage Garnishment Limits in Ohio

Again, federal law restricts the amount of pay garnishment. While states may set greater limitations, Ohio’s wage garnishment rules are typically consistent with federal law. The garnishment on a weekly basis cannot exceed the lesser of:

25% of your disposable weekly earnings, or the amount by which your disposable weekly earnings exceed 30 times the federal minimum hourly rate. (Ohio Revised Code Announcement 2329.66(A)(13).) (According to Ohio law, “disposable earnings” are those that remain after legally mandated deductions. Ohio Revised Code Ann. 2329.66(C)(1)

Furthermore, in Ohio, wage garnishment is not permitted for any obligation that is the subject of a debt-scheduling agreement between the judgment debtor and a budget and debt counseling program unless the following conditions are met:

Unless the service previously informed the judgment creditor that the debt schedule arrangement between the judgment debtor and the service was dissolved, the debt is due and unpaid for more than 45 days after the due date. (Ohio Revised Code Ann. 2716.03)

What Exactly Is “Debt Scheduling”?

In general, under a debt scheduling agreement, you pay a percentage of your income on a monthly basis to a budget and debt counseling service, which makes payments to your creditors until your obligations subject to the arrangement are paid off.

In Ohio, “debt scheduling” refers to counseling and help offered by a budget and debt counseling service to a customer in all of the following conditions.

The customer and the provider reach an agreement in which the consumer agrees to pay a percentage of his or her income to the service on a regular basis.
Until the consumer’s obligations are paid off, payments are made to the service.
The consumer’s creditors have received formal notification from the service. (Ohio Revised Code Ann. 2716.03)

How to Locate a Nonprofit Budget and Debt Counseling Organization

A “budget and debt counseling service” in Ohio is defined as a nonprofit business that advises clients on their financial commitments and aids them in dealing with their creditors. (Ohio Revised Code Ann. 2716.03) Here are a few options for locating a nonprofit budget and debt counseling service:

Look for a recognized firm, generally by the Council on Accreditation (COA) or the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) (ISO).
Consider employing a COA-accredited member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).
Find out whether the agency’s counselors are certified by an independent agency, which indicates they’ve completed a certification exam that assesses their knowledge of topics such as counseling, budgeting, credit and consumer law, debt management, and bankruptcy.
Check with your state attorney general’s office, the Better Business Bureau, and local consumer protection authorities to see whether any complaints have been made against the firm.

Legitimate debt counseling firms provide financial assistance for free or at a low cost. You should, however, avoid for-profit debt reduction firms. For-profit firms that pretend to offer debt relief services are often scams; you’ll get little or no assistance after agreeing to pay them. All too frequently, for-profit debt relief businesses demand exorbitant fees for things that you could conduct yourself, harm your credit, fail to provide the services, or just disappear with your money. Even if a debt relief firm does attempt to assist you, you will be charged a high fee for activities that you could do yourself or would be better off hiring an attorney or a nonprofit budget and debt counseling organization.

Child Support, Student Loan, and Unpaid Taxes Limits

If you owe child support, federal student loans, or taxes, the government or a creditor may garnish your earnings without a court order. The amount that may be garnished differs from that of judgment creditors.

Limits on Garnishment for Unpaid Child Support

Since 1988, all child support orders have included an automatic income withholding order. If you fall behind on child support payments, the other parent may seek a wage garnishment order from the court.

This form of wage garnishment is prohibited under federal law. If you are presently supporting a spouse or kid who is not the subject of the order, up to 50% of your disposable wages may be taken to pay child support. If you do not support a spouse or kid, the government may confiscate up to 60% of your wages. If you are more than 12 weeks behind on your payments, you may be charged an extra 5%. This federal statute is followed by Idaho state law. (15 U.S.C. § 1673). Other than those specified by federal law, Ohio has no extra withholding restrictions for child support. 3121.03 (Ohio Revised Code Ann.)

Maximum Garnishment for Federal Student Loans in Default

If you are in default on a federal student loan, the United States Department of Education or any firm collecting for this agency has the authority to garnish up to 15% of your wages. (20 U.S.C. § 1095a(a)(1)). This is referred to as a “administrative garnishment.” However, you may retain an amount equal to 30 times the current federal minimum wage every week. (Recall that federal law protects income up to 30 times the minimum wage per week from garnishment.) (15 U.S.C. § 1673).

Limits on Garnishment for Unpaid Taxes

If you owe unpaid taxes, the federal government may garnish your earnings (called a “levy”) even if you do not have a court judgment. The weekly exempt amount is calculated by adding the taxpayer’s standard deduction and the aggregate amount of personal exemption deductions permitted in the taxable year in which the levy occurs. The sum is then divided by 52. If you fail to verify the standard deduction and the number of dependents you are allowed to claim on your tax return, the IRS bases the amount exempt from levy on the standard deduction for a married individual filing separately with just one personal exemption (26 U.S.C. 6334(d)).

States and municipalities may also be entitled to garnish your salary in order to collect outstanding state and local taxes. Learn about local and state tax garnishment by speaking with an Ohio debt collection attorney.
Total Garnishment Amount

If you have several garnishments, the total amount cannot exceed 25%. (unless one of the debts allows for a higher garnishment amount, such as child support). (15 U.S.C. § 1673(a).)

How to Keep Your Wages Safe From Garnishment

If you get a notification of a wage garnishment order, you may be able to safeguard or “exempt” part or all of your earnings by submitting an exemption claim or making an objection with the court. The processes you must take to object to a wage garnishment vary depending on the kind of debt sought by the creditor and the laws of your state.

Most garnishments may also be stopped by filing for bankruptcy. The quantity of money you may keep is determined by your state’s exemption regulations. Exemptions from property taxes apply to more than simply earnings. Each state provides a list of exemptions that may be used by a filer to safeguard items essential to sustain a house and work, such as furniture, clothes, and a small automobile. The assets are stated under each state’s exemption legislation. You may exempt an asset that is on the list if you own it.

Job Termination Restrictions Due to Wage Garnishments

Complying with wage garnishment orders might be difficult for your employer; some may choose to fire you rather than comply. In this circumstance, federal law gives you some protection. If you have one wage garnishment, your employer cannot fire you under federal law. (15 U.S.C. § 1674).

Similarly, your employer cannot fire you only because of a wage garnishment by a single creditor in any 12-month period, according to Ohio law. (Ohio Revised Code Announcement 2716.05.)

Obtaining Additional Information on Ohio Wage Garnishment Laws

This page summarizes Ohio’s wage garnishment laws. More information about garnishment in general may be found on the website of the United States Department of Labor. Check out the wage garnishment section of the Franklin County Law Library online to learn more about pay garnishment restrictions in Ohio, including the processes that businesses must follow in carrying out wage garnishment orders.

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