What is a garnishment? A garnishment is basically a legal collections tool where a creditor obtains a court order compelling an employer to withhold a portion of an employee’s wages. The amount that can be withheld is capped at 25%, however, the percentage may vary depending on the state issuing the garnishment and the type of debt. The cap applies to all creditors, meaning 25% is the most that can be withheld at any one time. Garnishments, however, are not limited to wages and can involve one time garnishment of bank accounts or personal property.