COMPTROLLER'S SEAL STATE OF CONNECTICUT

STATE OF CONNECTICUT

NANCY WYMAN
COMPTROLLER
OFFICE OF THE STATE COMPTROLLER
55 ELM STREET
HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT 06106-1775
MARK OJAKIAN
DEPUTY COMPTROLLER

TO: Agency Payroll Officers
FROM: Gary Reardon, Director, Payroll Services
DATE: October 20, 2003
RE: Garnishments

The CORE system will now permit the processing and calculation of garnishments to be centralized in the payroll division of the Comptroller's office. The CORE system has also modified the process to bring in line with federal law and allows us to include an employee's total weekly income in calculating the level of garnishments.

The following information should be utilized as a guide in assisting in the determination of what portion of an employee's income is subject to garnishment for a debt, for purposes of dependant support or both. There are different requirements for garnishment for a debt by itself and for garnishment for a debt when the employee is also subject to a withholding order for support.

Agency payroll officers are requested to forward all pending garnishments to central payroll at the Office of the State Comptroller to ensure that all garnishments will be properly and timely processed.

Income Withholding for Support

Section 52-362(a)(2) (income withholding for support) of the general statutes, provides that an employee's disposable earnings consist of those earnings remaining after deduction of amounts required to be withheld for: federal, state and local income taxes, employment taxes (FICA, Medicare), normal retirement contributions, union dues and initiation fees, and group life and health insurance premiums. Required deductions do not include deductions for deferred compensation, vacation club, Christmas club, savings bonds or charitable giving.

Section 52-362(e) provides that the withholding order shall issue in the amount necessary to enforce a support order against only such non-exempt income as exceeds the greater of (1) 85% of the first $145.00 of disposable income, or (2) the amount exempt pursuant to Section 1673 of Title 15 of the United States Code or against any lesser amount the court deems equitable.

Example:

Gross Wages $1000.00
Allowable Deductions $ 380.00
Disposable Earnings $ 620.00
Exempt Earnings
85% of $145.00  $ 123.25
Amount Subject to
Support Withholding $ 496.75 (Subtract the exempt from the disposable)

52-362(g) provides that orders for income withholding for support take precedence over any wage execution (garnishment) for a debt pursuant to Sections 52-361 and 52-361a.

If there are two or more orders for income withholding for support they can be levied at the same time provided the total amount withheld for support does not exceed the maximum amount permitted to be garnished under Section 52-362 and the sums due shall be allocated in proportion to the amount of such orders. Priority should be given to current v. delinquent orders for support.

Garnishment for Debt

Section 52-350a(4) provides that an employee's disposable earnings consists of those earnings remaining after the deduction of amounts required to be withheld for: payment of federal income and employment taxes, normal retirement contributions, union dues and initiation fees, group life insurance premiums, health insurance premiums, federal tax levies, and state income tax deductions pursuant to section 12-34b. Required deductions do not include deductions for deferred compensation, vacation club, Christmas club, savings bonds or charitable giving.

Section 52-361a of the General Statutes provides that the maximum part of an employee's weekly earnings subject to garnishment is the lesser of the following: 1) 25% of an employee's disposable earnings for the week, or 2) the amount by which the disposable earnings exceed 40 times (a multiplier of 80 is used in the calculation for the bi-weekly pay cycle) the higher of the federal minimum wage or the full fair minimum wage in effect for the state. Connecticut's minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage, calculation based upon state law is therefore used because it is more favorable to the employee.

Currently the state minimum wage is $6.90 per hour; 40 times the minimum wage is $276.00 per week ($552.00 for 2 weeks, i.e. 80 times the minimum wage). Whenever the difference between the employee's weekly disposable earnings and $276.00 is greater than 25% of the employee's weekly disposable earnings, then the maximum amount which can be garnished is 25% of the employees weekly disposable income. The difference between $276.00 and an employee's weekly disposable earnings will be less than 25% of the employee's disposable earnings whenever the employee's weekly disposable earnings are less than $368 ($736.00 bi-weekly) per week.

Put another way, if an employee's bi-weekly disposable earnings are greater than $736.00 the amount that can be garnished is 25% of the employee's weekly disposable earnings. If an employee's weekly disposable earnings are less than $736.00 bi-weekly then the amount subject to garnishment is the difference between the disposable income and $552.00. If an employee's bi-weekly disposable earnings are less than $552.00 there can be no withholding for a garnishment.

Garnishments for a debt/judgment are given a priority of essentially first come, first served.

Example A

Gross Wages $1000.00
Allowable Deductions $ 320.00
Disposable Earnings $ 680.00
Exempt Earnings
75% of Disposable Earnings $ 510.00
Amount Subject to
Garnishment (25%) $ 170.00

Example B:

Gross Wages $1000.00
Allowable Deductions $ 320.00
Disposable Earnings $ 680.00
Exempt Earnings
80 X Minimum Wage $ 552.00
($6.90 as of 2003)
Amount Subject to
Garnishment $ 128.00

The statute requires the lesser of the two amounts be subject to garnishment, as explained above, because the $680.00 bi-weekly is less than $736.00 ($368 x 2) the garnishment would be calculated using Example B. Example B would result in the lesser amount of earnings being subject to garnishment.

*Note: The federal minimum wage lags behind the state and as long as that is the case, the state minimum wage will be used to calculate exempt earnings. The maximum of 25% of disposable earnings being garnished does not apply to dependant support garnishments.

Debt Garnishment When Earnings Subject to Withholding for Support

If the employee has both an order for support in place and a garnishment for a debt/judgment, the total of the two types of orders cannot exceed 25% of the employee's disposable income or the difference between the disposable income and 80X the employee's minimum wage. Said another way, if the employees support order which is given priority exceeds 25% of said employee's bi-weekly disposable income (or 80X minimum wage for bi-weekly payroll) no other non-support garnishment may be honored for that employee until such time as the support falls below the 25%/80X threshold.

Example:

Gross wages $1000.00
Allowable Deductions $ 320.00
Disposable Earnings $ 680.00
Child Support $ 300.00

Because the bi-weekly disposable earnings in the above example are less than $736.00 bi-weekly, the amount available for garnishment for debt would be calculated based upon the difference between the disposable earnings and 80X the Connecticut minimum wage, i.e. $680.00 - $552.00 = $128.00. Put another way, if an employee's bi-weekly disposable income is $736.00 or less, no garnishment for a debt may be satisfied if the bi-weekly child support order exceeds $128.00 or if the disposable income exceeded $736.00 - 25% is the cap of the employee's bi-weekly disposable income permitted to be garnished by both a support order and a garnishment for a debt.

**Note the support order is not itself subject to the 25% limitation

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