New to the payroll world? A veteran, looking for a cheat sheet? Either way – working payroll means comprehending a laundry list of terms. Below is a list of some of the more basic payroll terms.
Want to add more? Comment to add to the payroll glossary! 401(k) Plan – Retirement plan sponsored by an employer, allowing employees to save and invest a portion of their paycheck pre-tax.
Adjusted Gross Income – AGI is an employee’s gross income minus specific deductions.
Allowances/Exemptions – Allowances or exemptions are marked on an employee’s W-4 and reduce their taxable income. These are based on statuses or circumstances, like marriage or children.
Annual Wage/Annualizing Wages- An annual wage is the total amount an employee will be paid in wages during a calendar year. Employers can annualize wage payments for withholding purposes. View the arithmetic here.
Back Pay - Payment for work done in the past that was withheld.
Base Pay - The amount of pay for a job, minus bonuses or overtime.
Benefits - Non-wage compensation offered to employees by their company such as health, dental, vacation, daycare, tuition and others.
Bonus Wages - Money given to an employee outside of his or her regular salary or wages.
Commission – A fee paid to an employee for performing a service or selling a product.
Deduction - A reduction of income that can be taxed. Generally the result of expenses over a calendar year.
Dependent - A person that a taxpayer (other than his or her spouse) who can be used to claim exemption. Children are a prime example.
Disposable Income - Personal income minus personal taxes.
Earned Income Credit - The EIC is a tax credit for certain people who’ve earned income under $53,267.
Employer Identification Number - A nine-digit number that identifies a business entity.
Exempt - Refers to the monetary exemption of an employee that reduces his or her taxable income.
Fair Labor Standards Act- The FLSA establishes employment standards for private and government sectors, including minimum wage, overtime pay and recordkeeping.
Family and Medical Leave Act - The FMLA is a federal law that requires employers to provide job protection and unpaid leave to employees with qualifying medical or family reasons.
Federal Insurance Contributions Act - FICA is a payroll tax imposed on employers and employees that fund Social Security and Medicare. Self-employed individuals pay on behalf of employers and employees.
Federal Withholding Rates - The federal income tax rate based on a person’s taxable income and filing/marital status.
Filing/Marital Status - Filing status helps define the type of tax return form a person will use, and is based on martial and family situation.
FUTA - The Federal Unemployment Tax Act rate is 6.0%, and employees can take a tax credit of up to 5.4% of taxable income. FUTA helps fund pay for people who’ve lost their jobs.
Gross Pay - The total amount of a person’s salary before taxes or other deductions are subtracted.
Income Tax - Taxes all individuals or entities must pay that varies with their taxable income.
Independent Contractor -A person or business that provides goods or services to another person or business specified in some type of verbal or written agreement.
Individual Retirement Agreement- A personal retirement savings plan available to anyone, regardless of age, that makes yearly taxable income.
Involuntary Deductions - Deductions made to an employee’s paycheck by his or her employer that are often court ordered and needed to satisfy debt.
Medicare Tax - Part of the FICA, the Medicare tax funds Medicare hospital insurance for certain Americans. The rate is 2.9%.
Minimum Wage - The minimum hourly wage an employer can pay for work. The federal wage is $7.25. States can have their own rates.
Net Pay -The amount workers make after all their deductions are taken from their checks.
Overtime Pay - Non-exempt employees who work over 40 hours in a week must be given this pay, which is equal to at least time and one-half of their regular rates.
Pay Period – A pay period is the number of days for which an employee is paid. Workers are commonly paid weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly or monthly.
Reciprocity - An agreement between two states that allow residents of one to request tax exemption from the other.
Social Security - Part of FICA, Social Security helps fund benefits for retirees. The current rate is 6.2% for both employees and employers.
SSN -A social security number is a nine-digit number given to U.S. citizens, permanent residents and temporary working residents.
Take-Home Pay - The amount of pay a worker takes home from each paycheck after all deductions and other withholdings have been taken out.
Voluntary Deductions - Voluntary deductions from a person’s wages are only held with the permission of the employee. These vary by employer, but can range from life insurance programs to health insurance. These take a portion of a person’s check.
Wages -A fixed regular payment made by an employer to an employee for a job or task.
Withholding Tax - A government requirement for all taxpayers that come from an employee’s pay.
These free resources should not be taken as tax or legal advice. Content provided is intended as general information. Tax regulations and laws change and the impact of laws can vary. Consult a tax advisor, CPA or lawyer for guidance on your specific situation.