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Can the tax collector garnish my paycheck?


Q: I was lucky to inherit some real estate in the same locality where I am employed as a teacher. There is no mortgage on the property so I pay the taxes directly. Unfortunately I fell behind and now the local tax collector has threatened that I won't get a paycheck. I know I owe the money but how can they take my paycheck?

A: The tax collector is not just any creditor. State law allows tax collection to be made from the money, including wages or salary, which is owed the taxpayer without going through the usual judicial process of proving the debt and garnishing wages. Virginia Code section 58.1-3133 provides: In the payment of any warrants lawfully drawn, the treasurer paying such warrants may first deduct all taxes due from the party in whose favor the warrant is drawn. If such warrant is insufficient to pay the entire amount due, then such treasurer shall credit the tax bill by the amount of the warrant.

Your paycheck is the warrant from which your back taxes may be deducted.

This provision is not mandatory, so you might be able to make other arrangements to pay the tax bill and draw your regular paycheck. But under state law the tax collector can insist on being paid first and leave you without your paycheck.

I guess in your case the Beatles got it right when they sang: "Be thankful I don't take it all, `Cos I'm the Taxman, Yeah I'm the Taxman."


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