QuickBooks Tip – Child Support Garnishments


How to set up, track and pay Child Support Garnishments in QuickBooks seems to be a pretty popular topic of discussion, I see this question frequently on many of the QuickBooks forums and news groups that I frequent, so here is a little tutorial for setting up a weekly Child Support Deduction.

Quick Facts About Child Support Garnishments:

  • Child Support is a post (after) tax deduction from the employee paycheck.
  • It is possible that you will have more than one employee with a Child Support Deduction.
  • It is appropriate to have employee specific deduction items in your Payroll Item list.
  • It is not necessary to have employee specific liability accounts on your Chart of Accounts.

Creating a Child Support Garnishment deduction item in QuickBooks is pretty easy.

  • From the Lists menu -> choose Payroll Item List
  • Click on the Payroll Item button (lower left) -> and choose New
  • Select the EZ-Setup method -> click the Next button
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  • Select the Other Deduction option -> and click the Next button
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  • Check the Wage Garnishment option -> click the Next button
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  • Enter information about who the money is sent to (this is a QuickBooks vendor), the account number that must be displayed on the check, and how often the money must be sent in -> click the Next button and then click Finish.
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At this point QuickBooks has created a payroll deduction item in your Payroll Item List called Wage Garnishment.  You will probably want to edit this item, changing it’s name to something more meaningful – perhaps something like Employee X Child Support OR Employee X CS.

  • Go to Lists -> Payroll Item List -> find Wage Garnishment and double-click on it to Edit.
  • In the Enter Name for Deduction field (it will say Wage Garnishment) just type in Employee X CS -> and click the Next button
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  • For the liability account, make sure that you select (or create) a sub-account of the normal Payroll Liabilities account – a quick trick to add a subaccount right here on this window is to first select the standard Payroll Liabilities account, then click into the box and type in “:Child Support” (without the quotes), you will immediately be told that the account doesn’t exist and you should select Set Up; create the account and then select it.
  • Keep clicking the Next button on the following windows, changing nothing, until you arrive at the last window; where you will select Finish.

Adding the Child Support Garnishment to the Employees Record

  • From the Employee Center, find and Edit the Employee
  • Switch to the Payroll & Compensation section by using the Change Tabs drop down menu
  • Click into the Additions, Deductions & Company Contributions section, and in the Item Name column, select the deduction item, and give it an amount.
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Each week when you run payroll, the specified amount will be deducted from the employees paycheck and sent to the Liability account and will be shown on your Chart of Accounts or a Balance Sheet Report.

To actually generate the check to be sent to the Agency collecting the money, you’ll go to the Payroll Tab of the Employee Center and select it from the Pay Scheduled Liabilities section.

Don’t forget to set up a Scheduled Payroll Liability for this Item – here’s a YouTub video that will help you https://youtu.be/LTNPeUYiHMc

I hope you find this written tutorial helpful, if so please leave a comment.

14 thoughts on “QuickBooks Tip – Child Support Garnishments

  • Amy Eager

    Thank you so much for posting such a thorough tutorial on setting up a wage garnishment! I had been dreading the process, but apparently for no reason. I am relatively new to quickbooks and payroll in general, so I am ever so grateful that you have shared your expertise!

  • Daina


    I followed steps to add child support as “wage garnishment” and now need help changing it to “child support” on the checks to let the employee know what it is. Is it possible to do this after I’ve already set it up?

  • Stacey
    I’d need to know a lot of things about your small company, how you do payroll (in-house or outsourced), how the child support item is deducted and what account the child support item is mapped to on the Chart of Accounts. If it’s going to the standard QuickBooks Payroll Liabilities account – you need to setup a schedule for the payment and use the Pay Liabilities function to write the check. A normal check does not reduce the amount in the liability account.

  • Stacey

    Because we are a small company I write checks to send to Child Support Enforcement. Now, how do I categorize that in QB? Is it an expense of some sort or what?

  • Hi Patrick, thanks for stopping by.
    That’s quite the situation you have on your hands!
    The best advice I can offer is to contact the past payroll company and demand to know who (what agency/address) the garnishment was sent to and what it was for. There should also be hard copy records in the company files.
    This should be handled as quickly as possible – if you have to talk to the employee who had the garnishment withheld from his/her pay.
    If you don’t remit the money in a timely fashion he/she will get in a heap of trouble!
    Good luck.

  • Patrick

    How do you know who and what account number to send garnishment to. I took over payroll from past payroll company. I know there is 400 dollar garnishment and thats it.

  • Hi Jeff
    Glad you found this post helpful and easy to follow. I agree the paperwork from the State is horrible – you almost need to hire a lawyer to figure out what they want you to do! Good luck. You know know the “How To” next part is to figure out the “HOW MUCH”!

  • Keith Gormezano, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor and Quicken Expert in Seattle

    This post arrived at a perfect time. I was just called a few days ago by a contractor client in the greater Seattle area that I helped set up, review, help, support, provide onsite classes in, and train in QuickBooks payroll and their Premier Contractor version.

    Now I have a link for their favorites folder for future wage garnishments, other payroll item deductions, and child support payments orders as they apply to the company. It will save them time and money by not having to call me the next time.

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