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March 20, 2010
Determining Priorities between Existing Voluntary Deductions and New Garnishment Orders

In a BLR webinar entitled ‘Payroll: How to Legally Handle Tax Levies and Garnishments’, attorneys Clint Robison and Amy Jensen explain what occurs when an employee already has existing voluntary deductions prior to the receipt of the garnishment notice.

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The organization does not use the existing voluntary deductions in calculating the employee’s disposable earnings and voluntary deductions are not used in determining the amount for the garnishment. These funds are kept separate from what is payable to the garnishment agency. Agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service are aware that some people may try to find ways to avoid paying what they owe. Nevertheless, it should be noted that employees cannot receive a net zero paycheck.

Generally, if the voluntary deduction was in place before the garnishment notice was received, then it should remain in place. If a garnishment order has been received, an employee cannot then ask that voluntary deductions begin or be increased.

Clint Robison is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Hinshaw & Culbertson, one of the largest and oldest law firms in the country and can be reached at Amy Jensen is a senior employment attorney in the firm's Los Angeles office, who provides counseling and litigation services to a variety of companies. She can be reached at

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