This free online paycheck calculator will estimate your net take home pay after deductions and federal, state, and local income tax withholdings.
As you use the pay check calculator, please keep in mind that the results are merely estimates. In fact, whether you realize it or not, your actual net pay from your employer is merely an estimate as well. After all, if any unexpected income or tax-bracket related events occur between now and the end of the year (get a pay raise, lose your job, inherit assets, etc.), your actual income taxes will be different from from the amounts your employer is withholding.
In other words, estimating your withholding taxes is far from being an exact science. Your employer is simply following a mandatory withholding guide provided to them by the IRS. But even the IRS guide can't predict your future, so there's no way to know your exact tax liability prior to actually completing your federal and state income tax forms at the end of the year.
With that, let's use the free online paycheck calculator to estimate your net take home pay.
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Gross pay: Your total wages or salary for the pay period before any withholdings or deductions.
Pay period: How often you receive a paycheck, usually either weekly (52 times per year), biweekly (26 times per year), semi-monthly (24 times per year), monthly (12 times per year), quarterly (4 times per year), semi-annually (2 times per year), or annually (1 time per year).
Filing status: Your filing status determines which tax table you will use to look up your tax liability. The choices are single, married filing separately, married, or head of household.
Allowances: The number of withholding allowances used in determining your taxable income and normally equal to the number of dependents you have (can be adjusted up or down depending on your circumstances). As of the last update of this page (3/5/2013), the allowance was $3,900 per year for each qualified dependent. This amount effectively reduces your taxable income.
Qualified tax deferral plan: Percentage of your income that is being withheld for qualified plans, such as 401k contributions. As long as you stay within the contribution limits, this amount reduces your taxable income.
Other before tax deductions: The total of any other before-tax deductions per pay period, such as contributions to a Health Savings Account, a Flexible Savings Account, etc..
State and local income tax: The total percentage of your state and local income taxes. If you don't know your state tax rate, click here to open a pop-up window containing a summarized listing of the state tax rates.
Other after tax deductions: The total of any after tax deductions, such as health insurance, dental plans, etc..
After tax reimbursements: The total of any out-of-pocket expenses that your employer typically reimburses you for.
Allowance deduction: Amount of annual deductible allowance attributable to this pay period (annual amount divided by number of pay periods per year). This amount is deducted from your federal taxable wages but is not deducted from gross pay.
Qualified plan deduction: Total contribution to qualified retirement plan this pay period. This amount is deducted from your federal taxable wages and it is deducted from your gross pay. Keep in mind that these are funds that will be returned to you at a later time.
Other before-tax deductions: Total other before-tax deductions (over and above allowances and plan contributions) for this pay period. This figure is deducted from your federal taxable wages and it is deducted from your gross pay.
Federal taxable wages: This is your calculated federal taxable income for this pay period, which is used only to determine your federal and state income tax withholding amounts. To arrive at this figure, the free online paycheck calculator deducts all before-tax deductions from your gross wages.
Federal tax withholding: Your federal income tax withholding for this pay period, based on your filing status and federal taxable wages. To arrive at this value, the free online paycheck calculator multiplies your taxable wages by the number of pay periods per year, and then looking up the result in the table below. The source of the table is IRS Publication 15 (2013), Table 7, pg 45 (opens new window). To estimate your federal income tax, find the amount in the left-hand column that is less than, but not greater than, your annual taxable income. Then subtract that number from your annual taxable income to get your excess income. Finally, multiply your excess income by the corresponding percentage rate (right-hand column) and add the result to amount in the center column. Dividing your annual income tax by the number of pay periods will give you the federal tax withholding per pay period.
FICA: Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax is a US payroll (or employment) tax imposed by the federal government on both employees and employers for funding Social Security and Medicare. The FICA rate at the time the free online paycheck calculator was created was 7.65% (6.2% for Social Security and 1.45% for Medicare) with a maximum Social Security contribution of $7,049.40 per year.
FICA social Security withholding: This is your FICA Social Security withholding for this pay period (currently 6.2% of your gross pay, up to a maximum of $7,049.40). The Social Security tax is a federal program that provides for old age, survivors, disability and hospital insurance.
FICA Medicare withholding: This is your FICA Medicare withholding (1.45% of your gross pay up to $200,000, 1.54% on wages in excess of $200,00 per year). Medicare is a federal hospital insurance insurance program.
State and local income tax withholding: Based on your entered state tax percentage, this amount is your state income tax withholding for this pay period (state tax percent X federal taxable wages).
Other after-tax reductions: Total other after-tax reductions as entered in the top of the free online paycheck calculator.
Reimbursements: Total reimbursements as entered in the top section of the form. This amount is added to your net pay.
Net take home pay: This is your take home pay after subtracting all deductions and withholdings from your gross pay, and then adding back any reimbursements entered.