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With any judgement the judgement has to be domesticated in the jurisdiction you are trying to enforce it in. So for example, I owe taxes in California.

Now, California has a levy on my account, in a bank in California (California routing number but the bank is in new york). Now, I have another account at a bank branch in Nevada at a different bank.

In order to levy my Nevada account, can California "get it for free" with their existing judgement, or do they have to domesticate the judgement in Nevada and then serve the levy?

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A judgment creditor collects money from bank accounts using what is called a writ of garnishment.

This is because (1) a writ of garnishment is a court order directing someone who owes a judgment debtor money or property to turn that money or property over to the judgment creditor instead, and (2) a bank deposit in a bank account is technically a debt that the bank owes to the bank account owner.

If the bank has branches in both California and Nevada, a writ of garnishment issued based upon the California judgment can be presented to the bank in which you have an account and be directed to pay the money over to the California judgment creditor. Whether this is possible depends upon whether the bank in California where the writ of garnishment is served is the same entity as the bank in Nevada where the customer/judgment debtor has an account. Writs of garnishment are served upon "persons" (natural or legal), not upon accounts or bank branches. If the person upon whom the writ of garnishment needs to be served can be served with process and subjected to the jurisdiction of the California courts, it doesn't need to go to Nevada.

If the bank at which the funds are deposited in Nevada does not have a branch in California, then the California judgment creditor has the "register" the California judgment in Nevada at which point it becomes also a Nevada judgment and can be enforced as a Nevada judgment with a Nevada writ of garnishment at that point. The registration is ministerial and merely requires filing of a one page form, a certified copy of the California judgment, and a filing fee. This would be done pursuant to the Nevada Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (Nevada Revised Statutes §§ 17.330 to 17.400).

Finally, it is worth noting that a slightly different state court process is usually used in state tax cases than in non-tax cases. Often, rather than litigating a case to judgment in court, what happens is that the state taxing authority files what is called a "distraint warrant" in a state court of general jurisdiction, which is effectively a registration of a judgment entered in the state's administrative tax debt process in a court for purposes of collection as a money judgment through the state court process. Like a judgment registration in another state, this is generally a ministerial process (usually without even a filing fee for the state taxing authority), that isn't actively litigated and can be done without notice having to be served upon the tax debtor. Unfortunately, however, due to the fact that this is such a summary procedure, scammer often issue fake distraint warrants and try to collect them from unsuspecting scam victim.

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  • I didn't know state tax authorities were so powerless they had to deal with civil process. De facto I doubt the FTB searches all 50 states for bank accounts and domesticates a $10,000 judgment.
    – D J Sims
    May 18, 2023 at 20:12
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    @DuduSusus8 Finding the assets and collecting them are two different things. Banks send information returns to tax collection agencies about interest paying bank accounts. They use subpoena power to discover more (SCOTUS just decided a case today on the parallel power of the IRS to do asset discovery by subpoena in tax collection cases supremecourt.gov/opinions/22pdf/21-1599_l5gm.pdf ). This can be quite efficient but isn't perfect. The collection part is the hard part. The FTB acts strategically, spending more than makes sense to collect some debts, to encourage voluntary payment.
    – ohwilleke
    May 18, 2023 at 20:24
  • That's slightly incorrect. California does not have access to the federal interest income tax return on bank accounts data, it solely relies on the SSA income report for an SSN. Without the SSA telling where income exists or is paid they are lost. They also don't have a way to tie this to specific bank accounts, they have a manual list of major banks that they collect from arbitrarily. They sent me a $4 collection one time.
    – D J Sims
    May 18, 2023 at 20:30
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    @DuduSusus8 California gets some information returns to it (not federal). SSA income reports don't reveal investment income, but CA tax returns reveal SSNs of taxpayers. It can also, if it wants to, issue subpoenas from people who have access to more information at the collection stage and can also compel the taxpayer to fill out interrogatories under oath listing all of their assets if it feels the need to do so, on pain of incarceration for willful failure to do so.
    – ohwilleke
    May 18, 2023 at 20:40
  • It hasn't done it yet.
    – D J Sims
    May 18, 2023 at 20:58
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No

The full faith and credit clause of the Constitution mean that a judgement in one state is enforcable everywhere in the USA.

To enforce the judgement against a foreign asset, you would have to take the California judgement to the foreign court and ask them to enforce it - which is normally allowed.

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  • This is a wrong answer at least as phrased, you obviously have to domesticate at least non government judgements.
    – D J Sims
    May 18, 2023 at 20:13

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