Can the California State Tax Board Garnish Your Wages if You Now Live in Another State?


When a California resident earns income, he is required to pay a portion of the money to the government of his state. This money is paid in the form of income taxes to the California State Tax Board. If a person fails to pay the money he owes the board, the board may attempt to collect the taxes by legal means. Among the ways it can do this is by garnishing the person's wages, even if he has relocated to another state.

Tax Debts

When a person fails to pay the taxes California requires him to pay, the California State Tax Board will notify him he is in arrears and give him a chance to pay what he owes. If the person does not pay what he owes after being notified, the board can attempt to collect on the debt more aggressively. A garnishment will not come without forewarning.


If the state wishes to garnish the wages of its residents, it will attempt to petition a court with jurisdiction over the person's present employer to grant an order of garnishment. If this order is granted -- and it is granted only if the judge rules the debt is valid and the debtor is not exempt from garnishment -- the state board can serve this garnishment order on the employer. By law, an employer must comply with a garnishment order.

State Laws

Whether the California State Tax Board is allowed to receive a garnishment order from another state depends on the laws of the state to which the debtor has moved. While some states allow out-of-state garnishments, others do not. Which state's laws apply regarding the amount and type of garnishment allowed also will depend on the law of the states involved. To determine whether his wages can be garnished, a debtor must consult a tax lawyer in his new state of employment.


Even if the California State Tax Board can legally garnish a person's wages, this does not necessarily mean it will. Garnishment is an expensive process for the party attempting to collect the debt. If the person owes relatively little money to the state tax board, he is less likely to have his wages garnished. However, the debt will remain outstanding.


Several types of income are exempt from garnishment. These include most government payments, including unemployment benefits, Social Security payments and welfare, as well as child support payments, and, sometimes, alimony and pensions.

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  • "Taxes for Dummies"; Eric Tyson; 2009
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