Alaska Child Support Services Division

Frequently Asked Questions for Employers about Wage Withholding


Table of Contents

  1. Is there something wrong with an employee who is subject to wage withholding?
  2. Is income withholding meant to punish employees?
  3. What are the two kinds of orders?
  4. When will I know?
  5. When will it start?
  6. When will it stop?
  7. Can my employee have a copy?
  8. How often are payments due?
  9. Can I charge the employee?
  10. What do I do when I get a Wage Withholding Order?
  11. What if I get more than one Withholding Order?
  12. What information needs to be on the check?
  13. Is there a limit to withholding?
  14. Do commissions and bonuses count?
  15. Can I combine payments?
  16. What if the employee objects?
  17. What if my employee quits?
  18. Can I fire the employee so that I don’t have to bother with wage withholding?
  19. What if I ignore the order?
  20. What if the employee goes on Workers Compensation?
  21. What is wage with withholding for a contractor?


WHY DO WE WITHHOLD?

1. Is there something wrong with an employee who is subject to wage withholding?

Let’s start by clearing up a long-standing myth:  There’s nothing wrong with an employee who pays child support through wage withholding. The most effective way of collecting child support and securing health insurance (for a child/children) is through wage withholding and the use of our National Medical Support Notice (NMSN) aka Medical Support Order.

Wage-withholding orders are required on all new or modified child support orders – even if the parent has never missed a payment.  Back in 1984, when wage withholding for child support first started, the orders were used only on delinquent cases.  Congress changed the law in 1990 to cover all cases when it realized wage withholding is the best way to collect money for children.


2.  Is income withholding meant to punish employees?

 Income withholding is not meant to punish the employee – it’s to collect the money children need for housing, food, school supplies, clothes and health care.  The child support program’s main job is to make sure support payments are made on time and in full.


 3.  What are the two kinds of orders?

 The two kinds of orders are the Wage Withholding Order (also referred to as Order to withhold income and deliver or WID) for child support, and the National Medical Support Notice (NMSN) for medical coverage.  The Wage Withholding Order for child support requires you to forward the withheld wages to the child support agency, so they can be sent to the employee’s family.  The Medical Support Notice requires you to enroll the employee’s children in health care coverage if it’s available.  More details about the Medical Support Order can be found on page 4.


WHEN?

4.  When will I know?

 You’ll receive a Wage Withholding Order telling you when to begin, how much to deduct and where to send the information and or money.  The order may come from the Alaska Child Support Services Division (CSSD) or from another state, but you must follow the order.


 5.  When will it start?

 A Wage Withholding Order for child support requires that you start withholding no later than the first pay period following the date you receive the order.  A Medical Support Notice requires you to enroll the children in health care as soon as certain determinations about eligibility have been made.


 6.  When will it stop?

 Wage withholding orders and medical support orders remain in effect until you are notified by the child support agency of any changes.


 7.  Can my employee have a copy?

 Because of confidentiality, we do not recommend you give the employee a copy of the Medical Support Notice, unless it is properly sanitized by removing the custodial parents and child/ren address and personal identification information.  If you have any questions, please call Employer Assistance.


 8.  How often are payments due?

 You are to send in the money you withhold from your employee for child support within seven business days of each pay date.  If the employee is paid weekly, you must send in the money each week.  If your payroll is monthly, you must send in the money once a month.


 9.  Can I charge the employee?

 The law allows employers the option of charging employees up to $5 each time money is withheld from their paycheck.


HOW & HOW MUCH?

10.  What do I do when I get a Wage Withholding Order?

 Complete the Answers to Inquiries portion and return it to the child support agency within 14 days.  Begin withholding at the next pay period.


 11.  What if I get more than one Withholding Order?

 If both are Alaskan orders, withhold the combined total of the orders up to the limit on line “i” of the Wage Withholding Order.  Be sure to reference both case numbers on your check.

 If the orders are from different states but for different custodians or child/ren you must add the withholding amounts required by each order, but not exceed the withholding limits.  For assistance in determining the correct amounts, call our Employer Assistance section at (907) 269-6089.

 If you receive more than one order for the same case, notify the child support agency of the duplication.


 12.  What information needs to be on the check?

 The employee’s Social Security number, child support agency Member number, and all child support agency Case numbers. If you are a payroll company doing payroll for another company, please place the employers name also on the check.


 13.  Is there a limit to withholding?

 In Alaska, the withholding limit for child support is generally 40% of net income or 50% if Medical Support is required.  Net income is gross wages minus federal income taxes, Social Security, Medicare and other mandatory deductions.

 The percent withheld can be increased, up to the maximum allowed by the Federal Consumer Credit Protection Act, if the child support agency finds good cause.  The percentage to be withheld is indicated on line “i” of the Wage Withholding Order.


 14.  Do commissions and bonuses count?

 Yes.  Alaska law requires that employers withhold for child support and medical support from all earnings.  It defines earnings to include wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, dividends, retirement benefits and other compensation.


15.  Can I combine payments?

 Yes.  You can send in one check to cover child support for all of your employees.  However, you must list the amount and date withheld for each employee, each employee’s Social Security number and child support agency Member number, and all child support agency Case numbers. If you are a payroll company doing payroll for another company, please place each employers name also on the check.


 16.  What if the employee objects?

 Continue to withhold wages according to the order and tell your employee to challenge the order by requesting (in writing) an administrative review with the child support agency.  Until we notify you otherwise, you must withhold money as ordered.


 17.  What if my employee quits?

 You must notify the child support agency promptly when the employee leaves and give the employee’s last known home address and – if you know it – the new employer’s name and address.

 Alaska law requires you to keep a record of the withholding order for three years, and to enforce the order if the employee returns to the job within that time.


WHAT NOT TO DO

 18.  Can I fire the employee so that I don’t have to bother with wage withholding?

 No.  You could be fined up to $1,000 if you refuse to hire an applicant or if you discipline or fire an employee because of a child support wage-withholding order or a Medical Support Notice.  You also could be ordered to pay court costs.


 19.  What if I ignore the order?

 You could be liable for 100% of money owed under the child support order if you fail to follow the withholding order or Medical Support Notice.  You also could be liable for court costs, interest and attorney fees.


20.  What if the employee goes on Workers Compensation?

 If an employee goes on workers compensation, notify the employer hotline at 269-6901 or 1877-269-6685.  You will be asked to provide the name of the workers compensation provider their address and telephone number.


21.  What is wage with withholding for a contractor?

 Wage withholding for a contractor is 100% of the contract, not to exceed the outstanding child support debt.