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How much can you lose to wage garnishment?

If your wages are going to be garnished, the first thing you're probably wondering is exactly how much can legally be taken out of each paycheck. There are a few factors in play here, such as how much you make and how close your income level is to the poverty line.

Typically, the rule of thumb is that 25 percent of the paycheck can be taken and used to pay what you owe to creditors. If you owe for multiple reasons, like back taxes and child support, that 25 percent will then be split and used for all of these different debts.

Of course, if you're close to the poverty line, you may not even be able to pay your bills if you lose 25 percent of your income. In these cases, the amount that can be garnished is found with this formula: Your total income minus state minimum wage per hour multiplied by 30.

Minimum wage in Ohio is $8.10. This means that you could keep $243 per week ($8.10 times 30). If you worked for 35 hours that week, making $283.50, then $40.50 could be garnished.

There are other factors in play, as well. Rules are different, in some cases, if you owe child support, and you may need to pay 50 percent or even 60 or 65 percent. However, the formula above still holds true, so, no matter what you owe for, you will never keep less than 30 hours paid at minimum wage.

Still, even with these checks in place, it's clear that a very significant portion of your income could be lost. With such high stakes, it's very important to know all of your legal options to end wage garnishment.

Source: The Law Dictionary, "How Much Of Your Wages Can Be Garnished?," J. Hirby, accessed Dec. 27, 2016

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