The exemption from levy is tied to the personal exemption. The personal exemption went up last year and the IRS has published guidance on how that change impacts the amount of the exemption from levy in a wage levy situation. This creates a windfall for individuals subject to a wage levy that Congress probably did not think about when it passed the law. Of course, windfall may be the wrong term when talking about a provision that can bring a taxpayer to their knees. Here is the IRS description of the way the wage levy provisions will now work:
Public Law Number 115‐97, TAX CUTS AND JOBS ACT OF 2017, signed by President Trump on December 22, 2017, temporarily increases the basic standard deduction applicable to the 2018 taxable year [IRC § 63(c)(2); Rev. Proc. 2016‐ 55] across all filing categories:
From $6,350 to $12,000 for single individuals and married individuals filing separate returns;
From $9,350 to $18,000 for heads of households; and
From $12,700 to $24,000 for married individuals filing a joint return and surviving spouses.
The Act also suspends personal exemption deductions. Both changes, the increase in the standard deduction and the suspension of the personal exemption, are effective for taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026. These two changes impact how a recipient of a levy will figure the amount of income exempt from levy. Prior to the change in the law, the amount that was exempt from levy was calculated by taking into consideration both the standard deduction and the total exemptions of the payee. With the elimination of personal and dependency exemptions, a new method for determining the amount of income exempt from levy was needed.
As part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Congress amended §6334 to provide that from January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2025 employers and other recipients of levies would exclude from levy $4,150 per dependent per year in addition to the amount excluded based upon the standard deduction for the filing status of the person subject to levy. The amount exempt from levy each pay period is calculated by dividing the total amount exempt from levy for the year by the number of pay periods. Publication 1494, Table for Figuring Amount Exempt from Levy on Wages, Salary, and Other Income has been updated. Changes are also being made to Forms 668-W(c), 668-W(c)(DO), 668-W (ICS) and Form 668-W, Notice of Levy on Wages, Salary, and Other Income, along with the instructions. Due to the increase in the standard deduction amount, in most cases, the taxpayer will have more take-home pay that is exempt from levy.
Employers or others receiving levies will need to figure the amount of income exempt from levy. To do so the recipient must determine what the payee’s filing status will be (The amount exempt from levy is based upon the standard deduction for that filing status); the frequency of payments, Daily (260), Weekly (52), Bi-Weekly (26), Bi-Monthly (24), Monthly (12); and lastly, the number of dependents that the payee will claim. In this example, the employer knows that the employee will claim the married filing joint standard deduction and has two dependents.
STEP 1: Determine the filing status of the payee.
STEP 2: Find the amount exempt from levy based upon how often taxpayer is paid:
Married Filing Jointly:
STEP 3: The taxpayer is entitled to exclude $4,150 per year per dependent. This chart shows the amount that can be excluded each pay period based upon pay frequency. The amount from far the right-hand column for the correct pay frequency will need to be multiplied by the number of dependents to arrive at the total amount exempt from levy that is attributable to the payee’s dependents.
Amount Exempt from Levy per Dependent:
Amount Exempt from levy from Bi-Weekly Pay:
Add the amount exempt per pay period based upon the payee’s filing status, plus the amount exempt per pay period per dependent to arrive at the total amount of take-home pay that is exempt from levy. A taxpayer that is married, files jointly, is paid $1,500 bi-weekly, and claims two dependents will receive $1,242.32 and will have $257.68 ($1,500-$1242.32) levied.