Garnishment of Stimulus Checks (COVID-19)
Authored By: Alaska Legal Services
Answers to common questions about the garnishment of stimulus checks
What is a stimulus check?
Can my stimulus check be garnished?
Yes, as of this writing it can be garnished.
In Alaska, before any money can be garnished, the creditor must have gotten a judgment that allows for garnishment from a collections lawsuit in court.
Congress protected the stimulus checks from most collections by the Federal or State governments. Congress did not protect the stimulus checks from collection for private debts such as credit card or medical debt.
While Congress did give the Treasury Department the power to protect stimulus checks from private debt collection, as of this writing, the Treasury Department has not done so.
So what can I do to protect my stimulus check from garnishment?
If you are concerned your stimulus check will be garnished, consider:
- Withdrawing your stimulus funds as soon as they are deposited;
- Preparing to get your stimulus check as soon as possible. Most people don't need to do anything, but if you did not file for taxes in 2018 or 2019 AND you did not receive any monthly income from the Social Security Administration during 2019, you should file a 2019 tax return as soon as possible;
- If you know that your account is likely to be garnished when the stimulus check arrives, consider trying to get a paper stimulus check by not updating your direct deposit information with the IRS;
- Seeking an emergency stay of any garnishment order in court; or
- If the account containing your stimulus check has already been garnished, seek advice on Alaska's exemption laws to see if your stimulus check is protected.
More Information on the garnishment of stimulus checks:
Visit the National Consumer Law Center or read NCLC's article on Preventing Garnishment of Stimulus Checks.
To stay updated on Major Consumer Protections Announced in Response to COVID-19 visit NCLC's webpage.