Reading Your Pay Stubs
In this article
Every Employer's Pay Stubs may be unique, but here is a generic sample to help explain the information listed.
The check portion may look similar to the image below. If no amount is listed on the face of the check and the amount area is "starred" through, this would indicate the check was either deposited via direct deposit or there were no net funds after taxes and deductions to issue as a payment. For instance; servers who receive cash tips each night only pay taxes on those tips at the time of payroll and may find their hourly wages are exhausted by the taxes alone of those tips & wages.
Your address should be listed on the front; please update it with your employer if it is not accurate. An accurate mailing address will insure your W2 is delivered without delays at the end of the calendar year. Your employer's address should be listed at the top left of the check and your employer's bank listed on the top right side of the check. The check date listed is the date the check should be released to you and/or funds would be deposited if the payment was issued by direct deposit. However, be aware that direct deposits can be delayed if your employer's payroll was not processed more than 2 business days in advance of the check date. If your deposit was delayed, please contact your employer to inquire about the timing of the deposit.
Check Details Portion
In the yellow section circled you should see the Pay Period Begin & End date along with the check date again. Pay Period dates show the period of time over which employees worked & accrued earnings. Check Date is the date on which employees are paid; pay day. Your hire date is also listed in this section and the Check Number or deposit transit number if paid via direct deposit or net zero check.
In the area highlighted in yellow below you should see a detailed listing of any earnings, deductions and taxes for the current pay check along with your Year To Date earnings, deductions and taxes by type. We try to pack a lot of information on these stubs, so if you looks closely you will also see some information to give you an idea what W4 election was used to calculate your Federal & State income tax withholding. Do you see the (S/0) in this sample? That would be Single from box 3 of the W4 form and Zero from box 5. The $960 in parenthesis corresponds to the paycheck's taxable wages. Taxable wages are used when determining how much withholding and other employments taxes should be deducted from your wages. If you suspect too much or too little withholding was taken, you might review this article on common employee errors completing Form W4 before discussing with your employer.
Along the bottom you should see the full net pay for the paycheck along with other summary information. In this sample the combined net pay as $773.31 which was paid via a split between 2 direct deposits; $618.65 and $154.66.
In terms of decoding the names or abbreviations listed on the check, every employer may have unique Earnings & Deduction naming methods. If the name isn't evident you may need to discuss with your employer directly.
In terms of the tax names & abbreviations listed: OASDI stands for the technical name of Social Security taxes which is Old Age Survivors Disability Insurance. Medicare corresponds to this tax type by the same name, Fed corresponds to your Federal withholding or income taxes and CO for Colorado State withholding taxes. Some States may have additional tax types listed beyond withholding. Important: if you do not see "Fed" or "CO" or any state listed under your taxed deducted it would signify that no withholding taxes were taken from this check for those tax type. You may wish to review your W4 election and review the common errors article I referenced prior if this is occurring to you.