Income Withholding

State and federal law require DCS issue a wage or income withholding notice when an employee’s child support order contains withholding language.

DCS sends a withholding notice even if the employee (or independent contractor) is not behind in child support payments.

  • Notices are effective the day they are received.
  • State and Federal laws do not require DCS to give the employee advance notice.
  • DCS sends withholding notices by regular mail, certified mail or personal service. You can also receive withholding notices electronically.
  • You must return the “Answer” form within 20 days after receiving the notice.

Withholding from wages and tips:

  • Withhold the amount asked for on the form and send it to DCS within 7 working days of each payday.
  • State law does not allow withholding of more than 50 percent of the employee’s net income (disposable earnings).
  • Disposable earnings are the wages left after taking out taxes and mandatory fees.
  • Tax deductions include FICA, income taxes, Labor and Industries (unemployment insurance).
  • Fees include union dues, and some retirement deductions.
  • Wages of an independent contractor or employee include bonuses, commissions and draws against earnings.
  • Tips and gratuities under an employer’s control are subject to collection action.
  • Convert housing, rent and other benefits paid instead of wages to dollar amounts and count them as part of net wages.

Bonuses and lump-sum payments:

  • Bonuses and lump sum payments include:  bonuses, cash service awards, commission, retroactive pay increase, severance, sign on bonus, and vacation pay. 
  • Bonuses and other lump sum payments are addressed in wage withholding orders, but employers may not be required to withhold.
  • Employers should report all bonuses and lump sum payments to the Division of Child Support to ensure they meet their legal withholding obligations.  We will review each case and notify employers how much, if any, needs to be withheld from each employee.  These bonuses and lump sums have the same 50% limit as wages.  
  • How to Report Bonuses and Lump-Sum payments:
  • Information to Report:
    • Employer name, employer contact information, employee name, and SSN or BI#
    • If known:  the amount of the bonus and pay out date

Other States’ Withholding Orders:

  • The federal income withholding order may come from Washington or any other state.
  • Follow Washington State law and do not exceed the 50 percent of net withholding limit.
  • If you receive orders from more than one state telling you to withhold from the parent’s earnings, call us immediately at: 800-457-6202.

Failure to Withhold:

  • DCS holds employers responsible for payment of all child support money required to be taken from wages.
  • Your failure to honor a notice, or deduct and send wages to DCS can result in a finding of liability for the full child support debt and a fine.

Contact Us

Call 1-800-562-0479 Employer Relations Team or email dcs-cru@dshs.wa.gov with child support questions.