Garnishment Case Heard by Starke County Commissioners

Starke County Commissioners: Kathy Norem, Dan Bridegroom and Jennifer Davis

An interesting garnishment case came up before the Starke County Commissioners this week.

A public employee complained to the commissioners that her employer had received a “garnishment” notice from the treasurer’s office stating that she was behind in her real estate taxes. The matter was eventually cleared up at the treasurer’s office. It was an honest mistake that was easily corrected.

The commissioners questioned Interim Treasurer Kasey Clark who said a statute demanded that a notice be sent to an employer, notifying them when a public employee is behind in their personal real estate taxes. (Real estate is land or anything attached to the land, and personal property is on items that are movable and not part of the land).

In researching the matter, County Attorney Martin Lucas found that instead of a garnishment, which would be a last ditch effort to collect the debt through the courts, that this was more of a deduction notice. It had no legal standing behind it, but the employer could set the amount to be deducted, up to the IRS rule of no more than 25%.

All entities that hire public employees are required to submit a list of those people by June 1st and again on December 1st. That’s how a public employee paid with tax dollars is identified.

After much discussion by the commissioners, they voted in favor of the treasurer to send a notice to the employee at least two weeks before the deduction notice is sent to the employer, if fall settlement is received on time.  The employee would then have a chance to take care of the matter with the treasurer before having the notice sent to the employer.