An attachment order consists of a mandate from the administrative or judicial authority that allows the retention of a series of assets, including money, to collect a debt.
There are a series of non-compliances for which the justice of a country can order the withdrawal of certain assets from their owner. This order is known as a garnishment order.
In this way, what the administration pursues is a retention in the taxpayer’s assets. Thus, once the procedures established by law have been carried out, the collection of the tax debt is guaranteed.
The administrative procedure in the seizure order
In most countries there is a procedure that the administration must follow before issuing a seizure order. We can classify it into two parts, the ordinary and the executive. Let’s see what phases it consists of.
Let us imagine that the administration is aware of a presumed taxpayer debt. It would carry out the following steps within the administrative procedure.
- It notifies the taxpayer that he has a debt, according to his criteria, and gives him a term to argue in his favor. Normally, this is expressed in business days, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
- If the taxpayer alleges, these allegations are received and studied. The administration can consider them, ending the procedure. But you can also deny them and then offer the possibility of appeal, with a period that is usually one month.
- If we appeal and they accept it, once again the procedure ends. Otherwise, we can go to arbitration in an administrative court or directly to a contentious-administrative claim in court.
- If we do nothing and the deadlines pass, the ordinary route becomes executive. Then we can only resort to very specific aspects. The debt is fixed because we are supposed to have accepted it. Of course, in very exceptional cases we can request nullity or annulment.
- For executive notifications, a procedure similar to the ordinary one is used. There are deadlines for allegations, appeals or lawsuits. If we do nothing, the administration would begin to send us the corresponding seizure order from time to time.
Limits to the garnishment order
However, the administration cannot simply seize. Imagine a person in a precarious economic situation whose account balances are garnished. This could prevent you from living a decent life as proposed by most constitutional norms in the world.
For this reason there are limits to the embargo, both payroll and bank accounts. In turn, they affect self-employed or employed workers. In other words, we also include entrepreneurs whose income is the invoices they issue to their clients.
Normally, the reference is the legal minimum wage (SMI) of each country. From here on, a series of maximum percentages that can be seized apply. The usual thing is that the SMI is unattachable so that the taxpayer can live with some dignity.
Garnishment Order Example
To finish, let’s imagine a businessman who receives a tax notification. They are sanctioning you for not having filed the income tax return for the previous year. In addition, they give him fifteen days to plead.
The employer finds all your expense invoices and attaches them to the claim. Once delivered, they are only partially supported, there are two incorrect invoices and these are not deducted. Therefore, you are left with a debt that you cannot pay.
The ordinary procedure ends and the executive begins. Then a lien arrives on your bank account. However, with your sales invoices you can prove that your monthly income does not exceed the minimum wage (SMI). The improper attachment is accepted and returned.
In a few months another one arrives. On that occasion, he had income above the SMI, although all the balance he had was seized. He claims again and they return the difference after applying the legal scale.
As we can see, whenever we do not agree with an embargo order, the best thing is to plead, appeal and assert our rights.