Garnishment table: how much may a debtor keep from his monthly income?

To ensure that a debtor’s subsistence minimum is secured even in the event of an ongoing private insolvency or wage and salary garnishments, the legislator has set garnishment exemption limits in the event of private insolvency or wage and salary garnishments.

Do you want to learn more about the 2019 garnishment table?

The garnishment exemption table determines the amount of garnishable income and provides information about how much money a debtor is allowed to keep during the period of insolvency or wage garnishment.

Every 2 years the exemption amount of the garnishment table is updated. For debtors who are struggling with a garnishment of their salary or account, this is good news. The garnishment exemption limits increase namely usually.

For many debtors, this increase in the garnishment exemption limit can be a noticeable relief to their often difficult situation. As garnishments are often initiated in parallel with garnishments of salaries, debtors should make sure to have a certificate of the exemption amount on the garnishment protection account (P account) issued by a debtor counseling center in due time.

Learn everything you need to know about the topic in this article.


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Contents of this page

  1. What does the current garnishment table look like?
  2. What exactly does the garnishment exemption limit mean??
  3. How do I calculate my garnishment amount using the garnishment table?
  4. How can I increase the garnishment-free part of the salary on application?
  5. What are my rights and obligations in case of wage garnishment?
  6. Where does the garnishment table apply?
  7. When is a garnishment protection account required?
  8. How can debt counseling help me??

1. What does the current garnishment table look like??

Here you can find the current garnishment table 2021.

The last adjustment was made on 01.07.2021. The basic exemption amount as of 01.07.2021 monthly EUR 1.259.99 euros.

In the left two columns you can read the monthly net wage. In the columns next to it you can read the garnishable amount according to the number of dependants.
Find out the most important background information on the topic below.

2. What exactly does the garnishment exemption limit mean??

The so-called garnishment table regulates to the penny how much of a debtor’s net income can be garnished by one or more creditors. The principle is that each person and his dependents must have the minimum subsistence level.

The garnishment exemption limit therefore ensures that the debtor always has a certain basic amount of income from which he can support himself and meet his maintenance obligations.

  • How much is garnished depends on the amount of the monthly net income
  • and whether a debtor is single or has dependents such as children and spouses to support.

The more dependents there are to support, the higher the respective exemption limit for garnishment.

Debtors without maintenance obligations who earn less than EUR 1.259.99 net per month fall under the so-called basic exemption amount. These debtors will not have any of their income garnished.

The garnishment table is revised every two years on 01. July newly adjusted. This is intended to reflect changes in the general cost of living.

The garnishment exemption amount only exists up to a certain level of income. When a debtor earns more than the basic exemption amount, it’s called additional income. This additional income is divided between the debtor and the creditor, taking into account the debtor’s maintenance obligations. To motivate debtors to earn as high an income as possible, a higher income will always leave you with more than the basic tax-free amount.

Example A

A single debtor earns EUR 1.500,00. From it are seizable EUR 173,53. This amount is deducted from the debtor by the employer, the debtor gets paid EUR 1.326,47. This means that the debtor has EUR 66.48 more at his disposal than if the debtor only had the basic allowance of EUR 1.would earn 259,99.

If the same debtor now instead of EUR 1.500,00 monthly EUR 2.000.00, EUR 523.53 would be garnishable. The debtor is then left with EUR 1.476,47 and thus EUR 216,48 more than the basic exemption amount.

3. How to calculate my garnishment amount using the garnishment table?

How these sums are calculated can be seen in the current garnishment table.

This is how you proceed:

  1. Look up which area of the left column your income falls into.
  2. To the left you can see how much of your income will be garnished if you do not have to pay maintenance.
  3. In the columns next to it, you can see how much is garnished from your income, depending on the number of persons to whom you have to pay maintenance.

4. How can I increase the garnishment-free part of the salary on application?

With the initiation of compulsory execution proceedings on wages, a stressful time begins for debtors. Depending on the amount of the debts, as well as the earned income, this state can last for a while.

During this phase, individual living conditions may well change. Debtors need by no means be ashamed of their situation and serve the claims unconditionally. This is especially true if the cost of living increases and can no longer be met from the garnishment allowance.

In such exceptional situations, the law explicitly provides for a possibility to increase the garnishment-free portion upon request.

The application must be made to the competent court. The monthly living costs must be proven and it must be shown that they can no longer be covered by the monthly allowance.

If, for example, the debtor is obliged to make higher maintenance payments or if an illness forces him to incur expenses, appropriate supporting documents must be attached to the application. However, no interests of the creditor may oppose the increase of the exemption amount.

Example B

A single debtor living in Munich without children earns EUR 2 per month.100.00 net, from which EUR 593.93 is paid to an attaching creditor. This leaves the debtor with only EUR 1.506.07 available to cover living expenses.

The debtor’s monthly expenses amount to EUR 1.271,60 and are made up as follows:

  • Housing costs: EUR 940.00
  • Living expenses lt. Rental contract: EUR 150,00
  • Living expenses electricity: EUR 43,00
  • Broadcasting contribution GEZ: EUR 17.50
  • Telephone / Internet: EUR 31.80
  • Cost of public transport: EUR 89,30

From the remaining income of EUR 1.506.07 but the debtor cannot cover his monthly living expenses. After deducting the monthly fixed costs of EUR 1.271.60 the debtor would then only have EUR 234.47 for food, drink and clothing.

Since this amount would be below the standard rate under social law, it is possible to request that the garnishable income be increased by at least this standard rate.

5. What are my rights and obligations in the event of a wage garnishment?

Did you receive a notice of your wage garnishment? For the debtor, the shame in front of work colleagues and the employer often weighs the worst. However, the measure is not a punishment. Since it can affect anyone, it grants a possibility to pay off the debt. No one is able to predict the future.

Burying one’s head in the sand is therefore not an option. It is better to approach the subject openly.

There is nothing to be ashamed of for those affected. On the contrary, the payment even offers the chance to live carefree again in the future.

5.1. And suddenly the wage garnishment threatens

Compulsory execution on salary is always threatened when the debtor does not or cannot fulfill his financial obligations.

Have you received a notice of wage garnishment?

It should be absolutely tried to reach an out-of-court agreement with the believer beforehand. Some creditors accept a repayment plan for paying off the debt.

If, on the other hand, this agreement does not succeed, the creditor will apply for execution in court.

For the debtor, the garnishment into the salary is a safe way to enforce his claims.

But it is imperative to pay attention to the specifics of wage garnishment. Enforcement is not a set of rules to punish the debtor one more time in an already difficult situation.

5.2. The process of enforcement action

After the creditor has applied for execution, he will initiate the procedure for collection of the income. The bailiff responsible for the process then contacts the employer and serves him with a garnishment and transfer order.

The latter is obliged by law to enable and enforce wage garnishment. He is forbidden to transfer a higher amount than the garnishment exemption limit to his employee. He finally transfers the attachable portion to the creditor.

If, on the other hand, he does not fulfill this obligation, he is by no means released from the debt. Rather, the creditor can claim damages from the employer himself in the amount of the attachable sums. This means that he may have to pay the garnishable part of the salary a second time. For one thing, he has already transferred it to the debtor. On the other hand, the creditor is still waiting for the fulfillment of his claim.

If several creditors have filed their claims, the employer will make the payments in order of priority. Since the employer is responsible for the calculation of the attachable income portion, he may be liable for damages himself.

This applies to the debtor, if he sets too high a garnishable share. He may have to pay damages to the creditor if he has transferred too small a portion of the salary. If the employee files for insolvency in the course, his employer stops making payments. From this point on, the wages are part of the insolvency assets and are protected from the creditors.

5.3. Does a wage garnishment endanger my employment relationship??

Those struggling with debts are also increasingly plagued by worries about their jobs. For creditors often require debtors to assign wages or even initiate wage garnishment.

For employers, especially the wage garnishment is connected with additional effort. Once the employer has obtained a garnishment and transfer order for the monthly salary from the competent district court, this is served on the debtor’s employer as the so-called third-party debtor.

The employer must then provide information in due time and submit a third-party debtor declaration. In it, the employer must declare whether and, if so, which wage claims the employee is entitled to, as well as whether there are any other attachments or claim filings. In addition, employers must calculate the garnishable portion of the employee’s wages each month and remit it to the creditor.

Time and time again, this additional administrative work causes employers to incur costs and thus become disgruntled. Employers occasionally claim wage garnishments are grounds for termination.

Are wage garnishments grounds for dismissal?

Fortunately, there is a clear answer to this: debts are a private matter of the employee! The employer must accept the extra effort. Only in rare, special constellations has the Federal Labor Court (BAG) considered dismissals to be effective.

A good argument against a reason for termination is often provided by clauses in the employment contract that impose costs on the employee for the employer’s additional expenses. Interestingly, such clauses regularly exclude termination, since the employer has already contractually secured a certain sanction. Other sanctions he has thus de facto excluded or at least displaced.

Therefore, employees do not have to fear dismissal due to wage garnishment. If you as an employee are even threatened with personal insolvency, it is reassuring to know that this does not usually constitute grounds for termination.

6. Where the garnishment table applies?

A wage garnishment takes place in Germany directly with the employer. For the calculation of the respective garnishment exemption limits, the employer uses the respective current garnishment table.

The situation is different with garnishments on an account. To protect it from a garnishment respectively. In order to be able to claim the garnishment allowance, it must be converted into a garnishment protection account and the amount of the garnishment allowance must be certified by a lawyer or a licensed debtor counseling center.

The bank may only transfer to a creditor the amount that is above the individual garnishment exemption limit. In this way, a P account also protects a debtor from unauthorized access by a creditor.

7. When is a garnishment protection account required?

A garnishment protection account is always required when a creditor seizes the account of his debtor known to him on the basis of an enforceable title and thus the credit balance there is seized.

In this case, the so-called blocking of benefits takes effect immediately, d.h. the bank may not allow any more payouts or transfers for its customers. After four weeks, the bank will finally transfer the credit balance on the account to the creditor of its customer.

7.1. Why do I need a certificate for the P account?

While the employer automatically carries out the adjustment to the new limits of the garnishment table on the basis of the data available to him, you cannot be so sure with a bank. This applies in particular if you, as the debtor, have dependants to support. The bank usually does not know whether this is the case or not. how many people there are.

Do you also want to open a garnishment protection account and need advice?

Therefore, you would do well to prove the number of people to whom you are obligated to pay alimony. For this you need a certificate, which you cannot issue yourself. It is best to get the certificate from a debt counseling center. The latter is authorized by law to issue such a certificate.

Once you have received the certificate, present it to the bank immediately. The bank is then obliged to apply the new garnishment table with the higher garnishment exemption limits to the P-account.

By the way, it is advisable to submit the certificate even if you have already submitted a certificate two years ago, as the exemption limits for garnishment increase every two years.

This means that the person affected by an account garnishment only has these four weeks to defend himself against the garnishment and at least protect the unattachable portion of his income.

The problem here is that the garnishment protection for earned income expires when the income is transferred to the account and then only the exemption amounts certified there apply. The situation becomes dramatic when the money received in the account is intended to meet the debtor’s monthly obligations, such as rent and alimony payments, or is needed to buy food and provide for the family, but the account is not yet managed as a P account.

In this case, there is a threat of blocking the entire credit balance, which will be lifted only after conversion to a P account.

7.2. Prerequisite for the conversion from a normal account to a garnishment protection account

Banks are legally obliged to convert existing accounts into a garnishment protection account within four working days if this is requested by the customer. Prerequisites for this, however, are that it is an individual account, not a joint account, as z.B. with spouses, acts and the account is kept in credit.

This rule causes problems for holders of joint accounts, when the bank refuses to transfer the account to one of the holders, and for holders of current accounts who have used an overdraft facility. The legal obligation does not apply to these account types.

Are there any unanswered questions about seizure?

It should be noted that the establishment of a P-account and the protection of this tax-free amount is only carried out at the request of the account holder.

This request must be submitted to the bank by means of a prescribed form. The amount of this exemption amount must be confirmed by a lawyer or a licensed debt counseling agency.

For our clients we prepare these certificates free of charge. A detailed consultation on the garnishment protection account and the calculation and examination of the exemption amounts is thus part of our legal service within the scope of the mandates we support.

In addition, we help our clients who either do not have an account of their own or whose bank refuses to convert them into a garnishment protection account to set up a new account.

8. How can a debt counseling help me??

Regardless of whether you are already suffering from garnishments or one is imminent – if your debts are threatening to grow over your head, you should in any case visit a debt counseling center. Here the principle applies: The sooner this happens, the better.

The debt counseling service not only shows ways out of debt, but also provides information about the garnishment table, garnishment exemption limits and the P account. Above all, it helps to get a grip on what is in most cases a very stressful situation.

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