To garnish your wages in Iowa, a creditor must obtain a court-ordered judgment, then seek wage garnishment if it knows where you work. Government agencies can garnish without a court order provided they follow some guidelines. Your employer must give you a copy of the garnishment order after receiving it from the sheriff. Thereafter, you have 10 days to contest it.
Pay Period Limit
In a single pay period, for ordinary garnishments, your employer can withhold no more than the smaller of 25 percent of your disposable wages or the total by which your disposable wages exceed 40 times the minimum wage. Ordinary debts include car loans, credit cards debts, medical bills and other consumer debts. Disposable wages are your earnings after legally required deductions, such as withholding taxes.
Iowa limits the amount that each creditor can take from your wages yearly for a wage garnishment. The amount is based on your income. As of 2013, for annual income up to $12,000, up to $250 applies per creditor. The following limits also apply: up to $400 for wages $12,000 to $16,000; up to $800 for wages $16,000 to $24,000; up to $1,500 for wages $24,000 to $35,000; up to $2,000 for wages $35,000 to $50,000; and 10 percent of expected annual wages for wages $50,000 and more.
Non-consumer debts, such as federal or state tax levies and student loan garnishments, come directly from those agencies. The issuing agency must notify you beforehand of its intent to garnish and allow you time to respond. For example, you have 30 days to answer an Internal Revenue Service levy notice. Child and alimony support garnishments come directly from the court. Different limits apply to non-consumer garnishments. For example, to determine your wages that are exempt from an IRS levy, your employer uses Publication 1494 and your exemptions statement. Up to 15 percent of your wages may be garnished for a federal student loan. Note that your employer can withhold multiple garnishments from your wages at once, provided the total does not exceed 25 percent for the pay period.
Court-ordered support garnishments in Iowa take priority over all other garnishments. If your employer doesn’t know which garnishment to deduct first, it should consult the issuing agency for clarification.
Fees and Discharge
In Iowa, an employer may deduct an administrative fee of $2 per remittance from the debtor’s wages for support garnishments. No administrative fee applies to wage garnishments initiated by creditors. Your employer also cannot fire you because it received a wage garnishment against you even if it has been summoned multiple times to garnish your wages for a debt.
- University of Iowa: Workers' Rights Manual
- Iowa Legislatures: Limitation on Garnishment
- IRS.gov: Levy
- IRS.gov: Publication 1494
- Student Loan Borrower Assistance: Administrative Wage Garnishments
- Iowa Legislatures: Chapter 62, Garnishment
- National Federation of Independent Business: Understanding the Guidelines for Wage Garnishments
Grace Ferguson has been writing professionally since 2009. With 10 years of experience in employee benefits and payroll administration, Ferguson has written extensively on topics relating to employment and finance. A research writer as well, she has been published in The Sage Encyclopedia and Mission Bell Media.