There are a lot of salary paycheck calculators available on the Internet that claim to determine what your paycheck will look like on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis if you’re a salaried employer. The accuracy of the results you will get using a salary paycheck calculator will depend on a number of issues, however, so do your homework before using one.
Accuracy Depends On Detailed Information
Simply plugging in your annual salary and how many pay periods you’ll have in a given year won’t get the results you seek. You’ll get a take-home figure that is overinflated because you haven’t included the many mandatory and optional deductions that can be taken out of each paycheck.
With incomplete information, you’ll get inaccurate results. For a truer picture of what your take-home pay will be, you’ll need to include the following information:
If you have all of the information above and can input it into the calculator, you should get a fairly accurate result. In most cases, a reputable calculator can estimate your actual take-home pay within anywhere from $5 to $25 per pay period, although there are exceptions.
Gathering Needed Information For Your Salary Paycheck Calculator
You’ll need to gather the information listed above from a few different sources before you can fill out a salary calculator. You can try estimating the information based on past years’ salaries, but some information, like your federal withholding allowance, depends on a variety of factors, including recent changes in the tax code.
Your Federal Withholding Allowance
Your federal withholding allowance refers to any exemptions that will reduce how much your employer will deduct from your pay in order to cover your anticipated tax responsibility. The best way to find out how many exemptions you can claim is to use the Internal Revenue Service’s Form W-4 to calculate your withholding allowance.
After you’ve filled out this form, be sure to submit it to your employer so the company takes out the appropriate amount. For even more accuracy, go to the IRS website and use the online withholding calculator, which will walk you through several questions in order to accurately calculate your withholding.
Your IRS Tax Filing Status
Your filing status depends on your marital status and whether you’re the head of household for your family. There are currently five filing statuses for federal income taxes. These are Single, Married Filing Separately, Married Filing Jointly, Head of Household and Qualified Widow(er) with Child.
You should choose the appropriate category based on your marital status at the end of the tax year you’re filing. In some instances, you may qualify for two different statuses, such as Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately. In most cases, you’re better off filing jointly, but consult the IRS website or a federal income tax professional to determine which is the best choice for your family.
State And Local Tax Withholding Estimates
To determine how much your employer should withhold for state taxes, use one of the many online state tax withholding calculators. For an accurate figure, you’ll need to have your W-4 information and any other deductions you are aware of, including retirement benefits, childcare benefits, health insurance or supplemental insurance that are exempt from taxation in some states.
Certain retirement contributions automatically taken from your paycheck are tax-exempt. Contact your employer to find out how much they intend to deduct from each paycheck. You don’t have to pay income taxes on many forms of retirement, including 401(K) and 403(B) plans, but FICA and Medicare still have to be deducted for this portion of your salary.
Health Insurance And HSA Deductions
If you have health insurance through your employer and your portion of the premiums are automatically deducted from your paychecks, talk to the Human Resources department to find out exactly how much will be coming out of your paychecks.
Also ask about any Health Savings Account contributions that will be taken from your paycheck. If you opt to contribute an additional amount to a Health Savings Account (HSA), be sure to subtract that amount from your pay as well.
Court-Ordered Support Payments
If there is a court order in place requiring that your employer automatically deduct spousal or child support from your paychecks, you will need to deduct this figure from your salary calculation as well.
Our Top 4 Salary Paycheck Calculators Picks
If you have accurate information on all of these deductions, almost any online salary paycheck calculator should give you a relatively accurate snapshot of what your paychecks will look like.
There are some that are more accurate than others, and there are some that offer extra features such as allowances for bonuses or commissions. Some are so basic that they only take taxes into account and not any retirement or other deductions. Here are our top four choices for salary paycheck calculators:
ADP Salary Paycheck Calculator
ADP’s calculator gives you highly accurate figures for your paycheck after taxes. You’ll need a recent paystub so that you can fill out the information, as it works from your gross salary to determine what your after-tax salary should look like.
The calculator can consider not only state and federal taxes, but deductions such as retirement contributions, health insurance premiums and HSA contributions using a drop-down box. If there are other deductions that aren’t in the drop-down box, you can set up a custom section for those deductions.
Why We Like ADP’s Calculator
ADP’s system lets you print out either a detailed report or a replica of what your check stub should look like, including the deductions. They are currently the only salary paycheck calculator we’re familiar with that offers both options.
There are options for daily, weekly, bi-weekly or monthly pay schedules, so no matter what your schedule will be, you can get a clear idea of what to expect with each paycheck.
eSmart Paycheck Calculator
This salary paycheck calculator will provide you with accurate information based on your last paycheck, including not only your last pay figure, but your year-to-date income, taxes and withholding. All of this can be found on your most recent pay stub.
Why We Like The eSmart Calculator
The best feature of eSmart’s calculator is that it can be used for salaried employees as well as hourly employees. You can also enter overtime, so you can get an accurate picture of what your paycheck will be even if your pay sometimes fluctuates.
Because you need a bit more information for this calculator, it may not be the best choice if you don’t have access to a paystub for your current salary.
Sure Payroll Salary Paycheck Calculator
This salary paycheck calculator works similarly to the ADP calculator. You enter relevant information, and the calculator will quickly give you an accurate look at what to expect in your next paycheck.
There are several pre-set deductions, including HSA and 401K contributions, but for more specific deductions you’ll have to create a new deduction. Fortunately, this is fairly simple and allows you to customize the deductions based on an hourly rate, a percentage of your pay or a fixed amount.
Why We Like The Sure Calculator
This system doesn’t have quite as many customizable options, but it is accurate if you want a quick look at what your paycheck will look like. You get enough detail without having to fill out too many forms and without having to do as much research.
QuickBooks Free Hourly And Salary Paycheck Calculator
You can figure out your paycheck for either an hourly or a salaried position with this paycheck calculator by the designers of the payroll software QuickBooks. There are four separate sections to fill out in order to calculate an accurate estimate of your paycheck.
There are areas for commissions, bonuses and overtime as well. You don’t need as much information as some other calculators, but the results are still impressive.
Why We Like QuickBooks Salary Paycheck Calculator
You don’t have to have a recent pay stub or your year-to-date tax payments or withholding for an accurate calculation with QuickBooks’ calculator. It simply asks for your number of tax allowances, federal filing status and any extra deductions.
Although the report you’ll get doesn’t have the attractive presentation of other calculators, it will have all the information you need in a detailed report.
Salary Paycheck Calculators can help give you an idea of how a salary offer will translate into take-home pay so that you can make a better decision when you’ve been offered a new job that is salaried. These same calculators can also help you compare a salary offer to an hourly wage offer, taking into account considerations such as overtime potential.
Simply input your salary offer and use the calculator to determine your take-home pay, then use the calculator again to find out what a typical paycheck will be for hourly work. It makes it much easier to understand the relative advantages of each offer. Salary paycheck calculators are also a great way to establish a budget for day-to-day living and any long-term savings goals you may have.