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Levies Vs. Garnishments: What’s The Difference?

Levies and garnishments are common methods used by creditors to get paid for a delinquent account. They use them as collection tools to seize your stream of income or assets. Levies deal with your financial accounts, while garnishments are applied to your wages.

Here’s all you need to know about their differences:

Legal actions

Both of these methods are used by creditors when you’ve been unable to pay your debt. Private creditors need to get a court order before they can use these legal actions, meaning they have to sue you before winning the collection lawsuit. The court issues a money judgment to the winning party as proof of the amount that they’re owed.

However, government agencies like the IRS and the Department of Education don’t need to go through the same process. They can levy or garnish you without any judgment, after having provided you a notice of their intent. This notice provides a reasonable length of time to pay up the debt or respond with a reason you believe you don’t need to pay.


A levy freezes your bank account to seize the money in it. If you continue depositing money into an account that has been levied, it might also get seized by your creditor. Government agencies tend to use levies more often than private creditors, who prefer to use wage garnishment.

Wage garnishment

A garnishment forces your employer to hand over a part of your earned wages to the creditor. Your employer is not allowed to refuse to follow through on this order. To stop wage garnishments, you have to either file bankruptcy or negotiate a repayment. The wage garnishment will continue till the debt has been fulfilled if it isn’t stopped.

Find an experienced IRS levy lawyer

If you’re facing a wage garnishment or levy order, an IRS Audit lawyer can communicate with the credit agency for you, ensure that your records add up, and file appeals or claims on your behalf if needed. Having access to a legal team with both a tax lawyer and a criminal defense lawyer can also work to your advantage.

The Lincoln Law Group has a diverse team of legal professionals, including tax attorneys, criminal defense attorneys, family law attorneys, immigration lawyers, and personal injury lawyers in Baltimore and Silver Spring.

Contact us today to get started.

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