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Attorney Christine Kingston Talks with Katherine with It Needs to Be Said About Wage Garnishment

Categories: Interview
Katherine: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today on “This Needs to be Said”. Our friend, attorney, Christine Kingston has come in, and you always love our chemistry. Today will be nothing short of that.
Katherine: It’s around that time where you are getting ready to file your taxes, and some of us don’t want to file taxes because we are afraid that it’s going to be intercepted. I’m not promising that this show will be your savior, but I think that you should pay attention, because it might be. I don’t know this stuff. Attorney Kingston does. But, we’re talking about how to stop wage garnishments, and any of your money that’s going somewhere else right now.
Katherine: Especially, if it’s a tough time for you in life would be devastating. We hope that we’re catching you in a good space. If we’re not, save the information, pass it on to a friend, or save it for the next time that you’re able to use it ’cause trouble doesn’t last always, but it’s going to be a part of our journey.
Katherine: Welcome back, Attorney Christine Kingston. Could we say Christine or do I say Attorney Kingston, I’m getting tied here. Welcome back.
Christine K.: That’s okay.
Katherine: How are you?
Christine K.: I am doing fantastic, Katherine. Just call me Christine. It’s informal.
Katherine: Christine, yes.
Christine K.: Yeah, not a problem. ‘Cause I know talking to lawyers is never easy anyway for most people.
Katherine: But you make it fun, so that is what we will remember on “This Needs to be Said”. Is that you’ve made it-
Christine K.: Thank you.
Katherine: I wouldn’t say fun like we want to go out and party, but it’s like I’m not afraid to talk to the attorney now when I am in perceived trouble. That’s what I mean. It’s not stomach churning anymore. I’m like, “Oh, yeah, I have somebody I can talk to. Let me reach out to this person who knows stuff.”
Katherine: You definitely give it real life. You’re not using terminology that goes above our head. You’re talking to us in regular terms. That’s what I mean when I say fun. It’s something we can definitely understand.
Christine K.: Work with.
Katherine: Yup.
Christine K.: Yeah, I appreciate that, absolutely. Well, we’ll talk about wage garnishment today. Never a fun topic.
Katherine: No.
Christine K.: First thing, I’ll talk about what it is. Let’s talk about what a wage garnishment is ’cause I think that clear up for most people. Wage garnishment is actually a legal process where creditor has the power to take money out of your paycheck before you even get paid.
Christine K.: Now there’s sometimes where they’ll do garnishments through the tax returns which is a tax intercept. That’s a little bit different. Only a certain type of creditor can intercept your taxes, and that would be Federal Government agencies. They can take back taxes, and your student loan debt can be intercepted through your tax return.
Christine K.: Today, we’re going to just focus on those paychecks, and what happens … the wage garnishment coming out of the paychecks. The wages can also be garnished, both through a judicial court order from a creditor that has a judgment or through an administrative garnishment. The IRS can either take your tax refund or they can garnish your wages as well. And, again those student loan lenders, the Federal Government, okay? They can also garnish wages or intercept taxes.
Christine K.: If it’s a tax intercept, it’s only the government, and then non government creditors can do wage garnishments or bank levy’s. They’ll take your money if they have the power to do it. That’s general in a nutshell what that is.
Katherine: Okay. Now, we were talking about what is a wage garnishment, but I think … I haven’t had this happen to me, so help me understand this because when I’ve heard of someone with a wage garnishment they always seem surprised. Are they not being informed in time or is it that sudden?
Christine K.: That’s a great question. Suddenness comes on a bank levy because a bank levy is when they notify the sheriff to go to your bank account and take out whatever’s in it to collect their debt.
Katherine: Oh, wow.
Christine K.: That is the surprise by the time you get notified of a bank levy the money is gone. Now, on a wage garnishment where they are going to … and, the same thing with the tax intercept. It’s all fun and games until you’ve … like, you’ve said, they’re afraid to file their tax returns because they know they owe money and they could be intercepted, okay?
Christine K.: The way to avoid that one, by the way, is adjust your tax withholding’s, people. So, you don’t get a tax refund, okay? That’s my best advice on the intercept, let’s adjust our tax refund.
Katherine: My eyeballs just bugged and my lips are pinched.
Christine K.: It’s a simple solution, but most people don’t.
Katherine: I made the face.
Christine K.: Yeah, right? It’s simple but most people don’t know about it. So, that’s a simple solution on the intercept. Let’s just adjust our tax returns. We don’t need a refund anyway. That’s a free loan to the government that you don’t collect any interest on.
Christine K.: The bank levy’s and the tax intercept get virtually no notice, but on a wage garnishment they do. So, what happens is in order for them to pull money out of your paycheck, they have to go tell your employer. Hey, employer, I’m going to garnish these wages, and most of the employees know and anybody that is going to get a wage garnishment gets a notice. It’s so important. The moment they get that notice, the clock is ticking. Time is of the essence ’cause your next paycheck, your employer must withhold up to 25. I think it’s anywhere between 15 and 50% of your paycheck could be withheld.
Katherine: 50?
Christine K.: Up to 50% depending on what type of creditor it is.
Katherine: Wow.
Christine K.: And it’s the IRS that gets the most. So, if it’s taxes it’s a big problem. So, back taxes, but for the garden variety judgment creditors that sue you and get a judgment to collect on that credit card debt. They can only take up to 25%.
Katherine: Okay.
Christine K.: So, yeah, they get notice. On the first two, they get very little and on a wage garnishment they’ll get a little bit more. So, they have to act fast. That’s the thing.
Katherine: Okay.
Christine K.: Usually they’ve been notified even prior to the bank levy, the tax intercept and the wage garnishment order. There’s more stuff that happens before it gets to this point. But, if it gets to this point that’s when everything’s on fire. It’s now crunch time.
Katherine: Okay. ‘Cause they’ve tried other ways to get in touch with you before they … so what you’re saying-
Christine K.: They haven’t even called me yet.
Katherine: Right, okay. What you’re saying is by the time they’ve taken the money you have been communicated with. Am I understanding, we’re talking about wage garnishment?
Christine K.: Mm-hmm (affirmative)- Yeah, they’ve notified them.
Katherine: Okay. Okay.
Christine K.: Most of the time people … Because I’m a bankruptcy attorney, Katherine, I know you and I’ve talked awhile, and you’re not afraid of me anymore. So, that’s good.
Katherine: Not anymore.
Christine K.: Yeah, and you know who to call in case something happens. The problem is they haven’t called in to consult with an attorney. They’re afraid of going to bankruptcy because everybody’s been brainwashed to say that going into bankruptcy is the worst thing for you.
Christine K.: They’re trying everything in their power to avoid me, and then if they land in wage garnishment land then that’s the last stop before the creditor starts getting paid. I can stop that with a bankruptcy as a possibility. That’s just one option. We can make some arguments if this is the only debt, and you know me I turn people down if it’s not right. So, they can start it maybe outside.
Katherine: And that is one of the things I love.
Christine K.: Yeah, thank you. It’s not right for everybody, but if this is the only debt you’re dealing with on a wage garnishment you might be able to stop it without a BK, right? Maybe negotiate, maybe settle the debt. The old fashioned way would be just to pay it off if it’s not that big a deal.
Christine K.: They might be able to do it. If it’s causing a financial hardship, they can go back to the court and ask the judge to give them a payment plan based on their financial situation.
Katherine: Being an adult is so … it takes too much work to be an adult.
Christine K.: Yeah, I know, right? It’s a lot of paper work.
Katherine: It is a lot of paperwork. So, here’s the short and quick part I can say to the “This Needs to be Said” audience that I know, and I don’t need to be a lawyer to know this. If you do not take care of whatever it is you’ve got going on you’re going to have a big mess, and it’s harder to clean up a mess than it is to tune into our show, get the knowledge that you need and be able to contact the person who has the knowledge, and the power to set you on a better path.
Katherine: It may not be what you want to do, and you know what, Christine, I found out a lot of what we don’t do is just because we don’t want to do it.
Christine K.: That’s right.
Katherine: Yes, we may be afraid, but we just don’t want to do it, and we have every reason not to, but then the end of the story that I have found out is they just took my money, and because it never happened to me, I’m thinking, “Man, I never want that to happen to me.” I don’t want them to just take my money, but they’re not just taking your money.
Katherine: So, for any of my friends that this has happened to, and you’re listening, you now know I know your game. But, you want to take care of your business, and we all run into situations where it just kind of feels like our hands are tied, but untie them and make that hard right decision for yourself if you find that this is you.
Katherine: One of the things, you threw out a nugget in the beginning. Adjust your tax withholding’s. That is one of the first things that you can do for yourself, and you don’t have to be in trouble for that
Christine K.: That’s right.
Katherine: It is a lot of paperwork. So, here’s the short and quick part I can say to the “This Needs to be Said” audience that I know, and I don’t need to be a lawyer to know this. If you do not take care of whatever it is you’ve got going on you’re going to have a big mess, and it’s harder to clean up a mess than it is to tune into our show, get the knowledge that you need and be able to contact the person who has the knowledge, and the power to set you on a better path.
Katherine: It may not be what you want to do, and you know what, Christine, I found out a lot of what we don’t do is just because we don’t want to do it.
Christine K.: That’s right.
Katherine: Yes, we may be afraid, but we just don’t want to do it, and we have every reason not to, but then the end of the story that I have found out is they just took my money, and because it never happened to me, I’m thinking, “Man, I never want that to happen to me.” I don’t want them to just take my money, but they’re not just taking your money.
Katherine: So, for any of my friends that this has happened to, and you’re listening, you now know I know your game. But, you want to take care of your business, and we all run into situations where it just kind of feels like our hands are tied, but untie them and make that hard right decision for yourself if you find that this is you.
Katherine: One of the things, you threw out a nugget in the beginning. Adjust your tax withholding’s. That is one of the first things that you can do for yourself, and you don’t have to be in trouble for that
Christine K.: That’s right.
Katherine: The more I’m adulting out here, I realize what you said that we’re giving a loan that we’re not gaining interest on. People complain about it but again we don’t want to make the move. This is a walk to your human resources office to make your changes now.
Christine K.: Yes, that’s right.
Katherine: Anything past that-
Christine K.: That’s one thing we can do, absolutely.
Katherine: But, anything past that you’re going to need Christine, and she’s given you the information, you know what this looks like, where it came from, she gave us definitions. If this is a bank levy, from the tax IRS garnishment, or if it’s a creditor garnishment, so you have been empowered today with information to keep you from being in a situation that you can’t find your way out of.
Katherine: It’s tough when you get … I guess we’ll just call it a rabbit hole. It’s tough when you do that.
Christine K.: Yeah, I agree with you.
Katherine: Now, I want to skip ahead.
Christine K.: Yeah, I think you said it right on.
Katherine: I want to skip ahead, but I want to ask you a question. It’s going to be something we’re going to expound on in another interview, but as I’m talking about people preparing ourselves, and just stay out of trouble, and if you do get in trouble, they know who to call with the information which would be you not me. I just host the show.
Katherine: When we’re talking about preparing ourselves for the unexpected. You’re going to talk more about this, but recession preparedness because people don’t know that there’s a recession coming because we’re not watching the temperature of the world around us. We’re busy doing everything, and when the recession comes its just like the wage garnishment. They just did this to us.
Katherine: Not to go into it too much, but could you touch on it a little bit? About recession preparedness.
Christine K.: Well, absolutely. It’s like an emergency preparedness. Same concept. In the event that there is an emergency, right? In the plane, they say the mask is going to come down and you have to put the mask on yourself first then you help someone next to you.
Christine K.: Right now, is the time to put the mask on our-self. If anybody, if there’s too much debt, a recession is going to hurt a lot more. There’re layoffs coming. Job loss. If there’s a job loss and we stack up medical problems, and then we stack up healthcare problems on top of that, we’re like two minutes away from a bankruptcy case.
Christine K.: Listen, the rich use bankruptcy as a tool to get ahead. Why? Because it dumps debt quickly, hello! Here’s my thing, if you’re going to be in debt and you’ve run calculators online and you’re looking at Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover Program or whatever it is. You’re saying it’s going to take me more than five years to get out of debt, then I’m going to tell you something. Look for a bankruptcy attorney, get a free consultation, you could end the nightmare sooner and the sooner you get out of debt, the sooner you can save for retirement, college, whatever it is you want.
Christine K.: You want to buy a house. You can save for it. Why? Because you’re no longer putting those thousands of dollars out of your pocket trying to dig yourself out of that hole you dug. That’s the biggest part of it. You’re saving money and time with bankruptcy. The creditors don’t want you to know about it because then they don’t get paid.
Katherine: Wild.
Christine K.: Right?
Katherine: And that’s emotional. Yeah, ’cause that’s one of the things we talked about when you and I began doing these interviews is we don’t want to feel bad. I get that there’s legal and there’s moral, and then the rest of it is what’s left.
Katherine: So, legally this is what you can do to reset your life. But, we find ourselves in a moral prison because of some misinformation that we’ve been given. Maybe our parents wouldn’t do this, but what are you going to do because for me its outdated information.
Katherine: My mom never told me that. Not to do it. But, had she told me never file bankruptcy I would have to say, “Ma, you did raise me right, but I’m going to have to make a decision for myself because I can’t just live on I’m going to feel bad because I’ve overextended myself.” You can feel bad forever.
Christine K.: That’s right.
Katherine: I want to do something different, and I want to feel good about that, but usually you don’t feel good until you make the decision. That’s my advice for the listening audience.
Christine K.: I agree 100%.
Katherine: Going back to how to stop wage garnishments. I know our time is running out, but I wanted to make sure we covered everything you wanted to cover during this time concerning wage garnishments. But, I needed to go over to recession preparedness for a quick second, but we’re back.
Christine K.: I love that. No, I think that’s a great topic, too. We’ll continue on that on another one so they just have to stay tuned, and subscribe to your podcast. One of the things that I know about you, Katherine, is that you bring valuable information to your audience that needs to be said.
Christine K.: That’s why you picked that great topic for the name. We’re here to serve. We’re here to serve the community that’s listening to your podcast. So, that’s why they should continue to tune in because we want to make sure that your people that are listening to you have the best information.
Christine K.: Let me tell you about wage garnishment a little bit more, too. They should definitely consult with a lawyer because if bankruptcy’s a right option. The first moment the bankruptcy case is filed it will legally stop the wage garnishment dead in its tracks. That is so important so that they will get their full paycheck. Okay?
Christine K.: So, they could file bankruptcy. It creates what’s called the automatic stay which is that court ordered injunction that stops all collections in its tracks including a wage garnishment, okay? The creditors don’t want you to do that but if you do then it stops the wage garnishment. Keeps the money in your pocket, and you can move forward.
Christine K.: Bankruptcy might be the right choice because it’s an immediate result, and it stops it completely. That’s one of the more important things to understand especially if there’s other debt’s too. Let’s make bankruptcy work.
Christine K.: For example, if they were to pay back that debt. 100% debt payment, and they were to pay 500 dollars a month at 15% interest, they’re going to pay over fifty-five thousand dollars to pay back a thirty thousand dollar debt. If they took that same thirty thousand dollars and filed a chapter 13 bankruptcy case, which is a five year payment plan.
Christine K.: First of all, the other one at 100% is going to take just over nine years and fifty-five thousand dollars. In a chapter 13 bankruptcy, they don’t pay any interest. So, it’s thirty thousand dollars paid over a five year period. They just cut four years off, and another twenty thousand dollars on debt by filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy rather than paying the debt in full the normal way.
Christine K.: Then, if they’re eligible for chapter 7, they’ll pay zero of that thirty thousand dollar debt back, and all they got to do is hire a bankruptcy lawyer to get them through the process, and they’re done in four to six months.
Christine K.: Now, that five hundred dollar a month payment. What if you put that into a savings account over the next five to ten years. It’s mad.
Katherine: It is, and it’s definitely logic. It’s math and logic. It’s logic. It’s not emotions at all. It’s not emotions at all. Everything you just said is this is the system and this is how it works.
Christine K.: That’s right.
Katherine: If you follow these steps, here’s your outcome. Take the emotion out of it. I say that to people in my everyday life. Okay, I hear what you’re saying. I get that. Let’s take the emotion out of it, and let’s find a solution, and you usually clear the path for something that is going to be [inaudible 00:17:00]. Something that people can do once they choose to do it.
Katherine: I’m asking for whoever is listening that this information is for that get in touch with Christine. I’m going to stop, and Christine give them your information so that they can get in touch with you outside of “This Needs to be Said”.
Christine K.: Thank you, Katherine. Not a problem. This is the best way to recession proof yourself, people, is to get out of debt now before the recession hits. That way you’re going to be much happier with what you have to live on if the recession hits, and there’s a job loss. At least there’s no debt on the table.
Christine K.: The way to reach me. I’m Christine Kingston. I’m a licensed attorney in the state of California, practicing bankruptcy here in the Central district. You can find me at www.surfcitylawyers.com ’cause I’m in Huntington Beach, California. Our direct line telephone number is 714-533-9210. I’ll look forward to speaking with anybody, and I provide free consultations always.
Katherine: Awesome sauce. Thank you, and until the next time we get together, I want you to have a super day.
Christine K.: Awesome, thank you, Katherine, for having me. I’ll look forward to speaking with you again soon.
Katherine: Thank you.