How to garnish state and federal income tax refunds?

UPDATED: Jan 18, 2011

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How to garnish state and federal income tax refunds?

I am the plantiff in a small claims case; a judge agreed to a stipulation that the defendant would pay me $100 a week and sign over both her state and federal income tax checks. The defendant is not paying me at all. What is the best option I have to guarantee that my money is given to me? Is it possible to garnish her tax refunds? If so, how do I do that in small claims court? Also, how do I but a garnishment or levy on her bank accounts?

Asked on January 18, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Rhode Island


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

You need to go back to court first and show the court (i.e. judge) that the defendant is not abiding by the order. In some states all you would get is some sort of warrant for her arrest with a bench amount being the amount owed. If she gets a ticket for something and the police run her license, it will show up.  Otherwise, you still need a contempt judgment from the court and then see if the court can now order her bank accounts to be garnished (be prepared with proof she has accounts).  As far as tax refunds, you need to contact the IRS and see if you are eligible as now a creditor to garnish indirectly through the defendant's bank account (I don't believe direct garnishment is available).  However, the same may not apply to state taxing authorities, through whom you may be able to give notice of wage garnishment prior to a date certain.

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