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Can the IRS Garnish My Pension for Back Taxes?

Can the IRS Garnish My Pension for Back Taxes


Retirement is a time to enjoy the fruits of your labor, relax, and relish the security of your pension. However, if you owe back taxes to the IRS, you might be worried about the possibility of them garnishing your hard-earned pension funds. This concern is valid, but it’s essential to understand the rules, regulations, and options available to protect your retirement income.

Can the IRS Garnish My Pension?

The IRS possesses significant powers to collect unpaid taxes, but when it comes to garnishing retirement pensions, specific rules and limitations apply. Understanding these rules is crucial to alleviate concerns about the security of your pension.

  • Typically, Yes: In general, the IRS can garnish a portion of your pension income if you owe back taxes. However, there are legal safeguards and limitations to protect a portion of your retirement income.
  • Exemption for Certain Pensions: Some pension plans, such as Social Security benefits and military pensions, are exempt from IRS garnishment. These exemptions exist to ensure that retirees have a minimum level of financial security.
  • Percentage Limit: When the IRS garnishes a pension, they can usually take a maximum of 15% of each payment. This percentage may vary based on individual circumstances and applicable laws.
  • Thresholds for Protection: The IRS offers protection for a portion of your pension income to cover your basic living expenses. If your income falls below the determined threshold, it may be protected from garnishment.

Laws That Safeguard Your Pension

ERISA and Pension Protection Act

Two significant pieces of legislation provide vital protection for your pension:

  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA): ERISA safeguards private pension plans and sets strict rules to protect the rights of plan participants. It establishes requirements for pension plan reporting, disclosure, and fiduciary responsibilities.
  • Pension Protection Act: This act enhanced protections for pension benefits. It prohibits the assignment or garnishment of pension benefits, with exceptions for specific types of debt, such as child support.


While the IRS does have the authority to garnish a portion of your pension for back taxes, there are crucial safeguards in place to protect your retirement security. Understanding these safeguards, including IRS limitations and pension protection laws, is essential.

If you’re concerned about IRS garnishment affecting your pension, it’s wise to seek professional assistance from experts like Priority Tax Relief. They can help you navigate the intricacies of tax debt resolution, pension protection, and negotiations with the IRS, ensuring that you can enjoy your retirement with peace of mind and financial security. Don’t let tax concerns jeopardize your retirement – explore your options and secure your pension today.

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