Can the IRS garnish Social Security income?

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YES, the IRS CAN garnish your Social Security Retirement benefit! This is a relatively new program, though it was apparently authorized under legislation from several years ago. If your monthly benefit is more than $750, they may garnish 15% of your monthly benefit for taxes that are at least six months in arrears. (This doesn't apply to certain Social Security Disability benefits and perhaps other types of Soc. Sec. benefits, but it does apply to S.S. Retirement. I know, because I just got a letter from the IRS notifying me that they'll be taking $207 from my monthly payment.)

The IRS is required to notify you before it begins to garnish your Soc. Sec., but in my case the notice arrived just two days in advance. You can appeal the garnishment for reasons of "hardship," but you should do it immediately upon receiving the notice, or they'll garnish your next payment.
Actually, it is the Treasury Dept. that has the authority to withhold any money owed to the federal government out of any U.S. Treasury payments to its citizens or suppliers. Treasury writes ALL checks for the government, so they were given the authority....don't forget the oldest rule: You cannot escape death and taxes, so please pay your taxes, and hope for a long life.
While notice of an SS payment holdback needs to be given, (unlike most of the other offsets the government may make on payments it sends), an argument that you weren't given enough time would likely fall on deaf were more than likely well advised and given protest/dispute opportunities about the DEBT that is being paid - and failed to adequately respond or say why you didn't owe it and the Government was wrong in demanding payment...perhaps thinking there wasn't much they could do? Garnishment of SS is well on in the collection process.
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