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Can The IRS Garnish Social Security?

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Alisson Ward

Tax Professional | Content Writer

The IRS Garnish Social Security

Understanding the IRS's Collection Powers

The IRS has broad powers when it comes to collecting unpaid taxes. These powers can include wage garnishment, levying bank accounts, and even seizing property. However, there are specific rules and limitations regarding whether the Social Security benefits can be garnished by IRS.

Circumstances When the IRS Can Garnish Social Security

  • Unpaid Federal Taxes: If you owe unpaid federal taxes, the IRS can potentially garnish a portion of your Social Security benefits to satisfy the debt.
  • No Age Limit: Unlike some other forms of debt collection, there is no age limit when it comes to the IRS garnishing Social Security. Even retirees are not immune from this possibility.
  • Notice of Intent: Before garnishing your Social Security, the IRS must send you a notice of intent. This notice will inform you about the amount you owe, the proposed garnishment amount, and your rights as a taxpayer.

Protection for Low-Income Taxpayers

While the IRS has the authority to garnish benefits from the Social Security in certain situations, there are protections in place to help low-income taxpayers. These protections include:

  • Exemption Amount: The IRS cannot garnish the entire Social Security benefit. A portion is typically exempt from garnishment, allowing you to maintain a basic level of financial support.
  • Financial Hardship: If you can prove that garnishment would cause financial hardship, you may be able to reduce or eliminate the garnishment.


The IRS does have the authority to garnish Social Security benefits in certain circumstances, but there are protections in place to safeguard low-income taxpayers. If you find yourself facing Social Security garnishment or other IRS issues, it’s crucial to seek professional guidance and support. Priority Tax Relief can assist you in navigating these complex matters, protecting your financial stability and ensuring your rights as a taxpayer are upheld. Don’t let IRS issues with Social Security cause unnecessary stress – explore your options and take the first step towards a resolution today.

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