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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Enforcement action: county court proceedings: attachment of earnings orders (AEOs): AEO - attachable earnings

Earnings that can and cannot be attached

‘Attachable earnings’ is PAYE income payable to the judgment debtor after deductions for PAYE, NIC and superannuation. This includes wages or salary, overtime, bonuses, commission, occupational pensions and statutory sick pay.

The earnings of a director of a limited company can be attached, provided that the judgment debt is the director’s personal liability, because a director is an employee.

Payments that cannot be attached

The following payments cannot be attached:

  • state ‘old age’ pensions
  • disability pensions
  • benefit payments
  • tax credits
  • Armed Forces pay; but arrangements can be made for deductions from a serviceman’s pay (DMBM667670)
  • merchant seamen’s wages (except wages paid to a seaman of a fishing boat)
  • self-employed earnings.

Uncertainty whether certain payments are ‘earnings’

An employer, debtor or creditor, who is uncertain whether particular payments are ‘earnings’, may apply to the court for a ruling. If the employer or the judgment debtor makes such an application, the court will notify you of the date and time when the application will be considered.

If you receive such a notification, contact the EIS Bradford CCP Technical Team for advice.

You do not have to attend the court, but you should keep the notification with the case papers.