A wage garnishment order allows creditors to take money directly from your paycheck. Most of the time, this is only possible after a court has entered a judgment. Here's how Mississippi regulates wage garnishments.
Written by Upsolve Team.
Updated October 21, 2021
Are you having debt trouble? If you are, and you’re not making payments, you might run the risk of losing some of your paycheck to a creditor. In Mississippi, creditors can take your wages directly out of your paycheck through a process called wage garnishment. Under both state and federal law, creditors are limited in how much money they can take and also what kinds of income are subject to wage garnishment.
In this article, we’ll help you understand how wage garnishments work in the Magnolia State, and how to stop them.
What Is Wage Garnishment?
Wage garnishment is a type of debt collection that allows a creditor to take a portion of your paycheck to address a past-due debt. Creditors often use wage garnishments because they’re able to get paid back in cash. In Mississippi, creditors generally need a money judgment against you to garnish your wages. They get this judgment by suing you and taking you to court. The wage garnishment process and limits on how much can be garnished are mostly governed by state law.
Who Can Garnish My Wages in Mississippi?
In Mississippi, creditors, debt collectors, and debt buyers with a valid money judgment against you can all garnish your wages. Creditors may include banks, credit card companies, hospitals you owe medical bills to, stores that gave you a store credit card, and private loan servicers.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) — which is charged with collecting federal taxes — can also garnish your wages, along with federal student loan servicers and parents owed child support, but they don’t need a court order to do so. The Mississippi Department of Revenue can also garnish your wages to pay state back taxes without a court order. All of these special types of debts are subject to special rules.
In this article, we cover the wage garnishment process and rules for non-special debts that do require creditors to get a money judgment first.
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Mississippi Wage Garnishment Process
As in other states, in Mississippi, a creditor needs to obtain a court judgment against you before they can ask the court for a wage garnishment. To do this, they have to sue you for the debt you owe. Creditors will generally file a lawsuit once you’ve defaulted on a loan or if you’ve stopped paying your credit card. If they win at trial, the court will give the creditor their judgment, which makes you legally responsible for the debt. Creditors can also get a default judgment against you if you don’t show up to defend yourself in court.
Once the creditor has the judgment, they can ask the court to issue a writ of garnishment, also called a garnishment order, which is the order that creates the wage garnishment. The creditor has to notify the garnishee of this writ. In this case, the garnishee is your employer.
Mississippi’s 30-Day Rule
Once the writ of garnishment has been issued to your employer, your employer has to wait 30 days before they start removing wages from your paycheck to pay to the creditor.
During these 30 days, you may be able to negotiate a payment plan with the creditor. That is, if you find out about the garnishment. The creditor doesn’t have to notify you of the garnishment and neither does your employer. Although employers often do notify their employees of garnishments, some do not.
How Much of My Paycheck Can Be Taken by Wage Garnishment?
No creditor in Mississippi can take more than the total amount of money listed in the judgment. This may include fees, costs, and interest. Creditors are also limited in how much they can take from each paycheck. On a weekly basis, they can only take the lesser of the following amounts:
25% of your total weekly disposable income, also called your disposable earnings; or
The amount of your disposable income for that week that exceeds 30 times the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25 per hour).
According to Mississippi law, disposable earnings are your earnings that remain after all deductions required by law have been withheld for any given pay period. Deductions usually include income taxes, FICA taxes, state Social Security taxes, and others.
Creditors also can’t take exempt income. This includes income like Social Security benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment benefits, and others. Exemptions vary from state to state, and additional types of income in Mississippi are exempt from garnishment.
If you have more than one wage garnishment issued against you, creditors can still only take a total of 25% of your weekly disposable income. So, for example, if one creditor is garnishing 15% of your weekly disposable income, then the other creditor can only garnish the remaining 10%.
Again, certain kinds of debts, like child support payments, federal back taxes, or state taxes, are subject to special rules. For example, in Mississippi, up to 50% of your disposable income can be garnished to pay back child support. If you don’t have another child or spouse to support, this amount can be up to 65% of your disposable income.
If you owe back taxes to the federal government, they’ll garnish your wages according to your income and how many dependents you have. You can calculate how much the IRS will be able to garnish using the tables in IRS Publication 1494.
How To Stop a Garnishment in Mississippi
There are really only two ways to stop a wage garnishment in Mississippi. You can either pay the amount owed or you can file for bankruptcy. If you decide to pay the amount off, you may be able to negotiate a debt settlement or a payment plan with the creditor. Creditors aren’t required to do either, but they may be open to it if they believe you will file for bankruptcy.
If you file bankruptcy, the wage garnishment will stop while the bankruptcy is in progress because the court will issue an automatic stay. This also stops other debt collection activities. There are two types of bankruptcy you can file: Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13. Which one you choose will depend on your financial situation.
Bankruptcy may sound scary, but it's a common form of debt relief, and it can help you manage your debt. If you want help filing for bankruptcy in Mississippi, take our screener to see if you qualify for free bankruptcy help.
Are There Any Resources for People Facing Wage Garnishment in Mississippi?
If you need help managing or ending your wage garnishment, you can use the following legal resources in Mississippi:
Mississippi Center for Legal Services (MCLS) is a legal aid organization that provides legal services, including legal representation, to qualifying individuals in Mississippi. MCLS has offices throughout Mississippi.
Northern Mississippi Rural Legal Services Elder Law Project provides legal assistance to qualifying individuals who are 60 years old or older.
MSLegalServices.org is a website dedicated to providing legal information on a variety of topics, including wage garnishment.