The 411 on How To Understand Your Pay Stub


Whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, we all look forward to payday! Like most people, you immediately look for the big number that you’re taking home this week after taxes have withheld.

But what about all of those other boxes and numbers that are listed on your paystub?
What do they mean?
Are those amounts always taken out?
Is it possible for those amounts to change?


Well, PayWow has the answers you’ve been looking for!


How To Read Your Pay Stub

When you receive your paycheck a paystub is provided to you (paper or electronic) that lists how the amount of compensation was calculated. Let’s take a closer look into what your paystub is comprised of.


General Information

At the top of your pay stub the Pay Period and Pay Date are listed to help keep your paystubs organized. Important employer and employee information is also listed at the top; giving you all of the basic information you need in one place.


Employee Earnings


This section shows your hourly rate of pay, hours worked, and the gross earnings from that particular pay period. By the way, gross earnings are what you make before taxes, contributions, and deductions are made from your paycheck.


Employer Taxes

Taxes reflected in this section do not affect your personal income directly. This section solely lists the taxes that your employer is responsible for paying.


Did you know that employers are responsible for not only withholding your taxes as an employee but are also required to pay an equivalent portion for Social Security and Medicare purposes? For employers, this means that the full cost of an employee is higher than the gross earnings that are paid towards you.


FUTA (Federal Unemployment Tax Act) and SUTA (State Unemployment Tax Act) amounts are also listed in this section.


Employee Taxes Withheld

If there’s any section that catches your attention on a paystub, it’s probably this one! This section lists the taxes that are taken from your gross earnings and is also included on your W-2 for annual personal tax filing purposes.


Things such as your marital status and the number of allowances that you claim affect the amount of taxes that are withheld from your pay. As always, Social Security and Medicare taxes are withheld from every tax-paying employee. PayWow calculates all of these taxes automatically for the employer to ensure accuracy.


Employer Contributions (Pre-Tax)

This section lists the contributions that your employer makes towards benefits such as medical and dental insurance.


Employee Deductions (Pre-Tax)

Deductions for benefits that you have chosen as an employee (retirement, medical, dental, vision, etc.) are listed here


Employer Contributions (Post-Tax) & Employee Deductions (Post-Tax)

In this section, contributions by your employer and deductions as an employee after taxes are withheld is listed here.



Another “go-to section” of the paystub, this portion of the pay stub summarizes various totals for both the current pay period as well as a year-to-date calculation.


Familiar line items such as Gross Earnings, Pre-Tax Deductions/Contributions, Taxes, and Post-Tax Deductions/Contributions are provided in this section.


Perfect Payroll Experience with PayWow

Share this post and comment below with any questions for our expert payroll specialist. As always your friends at PayWow take pride in providing a safe, secure, and accurate payroll processing and e-filing that save you time and money.


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