My paychecks aren't coming with FICA/witholding numbers (and totals). Is this lega?
January 9, 2004 12:10 PM   Subscribe

Is there a Tax Accountant in the House? My new employer gives me paychecks with no itemized paystub attached to them -- just a check. If I ask, they'll also give me a separate printout with my Gross Wages, Federal Withholding, FICA, etc for that pay period, but they can't seem to produce a document with the totals on it. Is this legal?
posted by anastasiav to Work & Money (7 answers total)
What do you mean by "totals"? Does the amount on the check reconcile to gross wages minus withholdings? If so, you can ask for the printout when you receive each check.
posted by PrinceValium at 12:34 PM on January 9, 2004

There is nothing in the Internal Revenue Code per se that would require your employer to give you this information on a regular basis, except that they must, of course, provide you with a W-2 for the year shortly after they year ends. There may be state laws requiring them to give you that information, but I am not aware of any off hand. What they're doing is certainly not very friendly, and it's not usual, but it's likely legal. Follow PrinceValium's suggestion and ask for a printout each period. Also, you might want to suggest to your employer that they consider a payroll service. They are not terribly expensive, they save your employer much time, and they protect you from incurring penalties when you're too clueless to do the payroll tax returns correctly.
posted by anapestic at 12:38 PM on January 9, 2004

anapestic - thanks for your help; that's what I was afraid of.

What do you mean by "totals"? Does the amount on the check reconcile to gross wages minus withholdings? If so, you can ask for the printout when you receive each check.

"Totals" meaning running totals on withholding, etc. over the course of the year. I have been asking for the printout each pay period, but in order to check (for example) that the Federal Withholding totals on my W2 match what was actually taken out, I have to manually add up the amounts withheld from each check to get a total. I've created a spreadsheet for this (my travel reimbursements get added into the same check with my pay, so I need to keep track of what part of the check is which), but its a pain, and it seems crazy that I'm doing this myself. Plus, I'm getting ready to buy a new car and I have no idea how I'm going to get a loan without showing paystubs. I guess its just the culture shock of coming from a large company to a tiny non-profit.
posted by anastasiav at 12:50 PM on January 9, 2004

Anastasiav, you said it - tiny nonprofit. I do the payroll for my company and we just now, after a full year of existence, put all the regular info on the paystub. Your HR person will write you a letter on company letterhead to confirm your gross and after-tax salary per paycheck to help you qualify for a car loan. It is a pain to subtract everything out and check, but good for you for doing it! A lot of people don't even know what all the deductions are for, let alone know how much should be taken out of their checks.
posted by pomegranate at 1:10 PM on January 9, 2004

I think the spreadsheet idea is smart, and if there is a discrepancy between your totals and the W-2 you can ask them to produce documentation which you can use to reconcile.

If you are not getting regular paystubs, it may be a good idea to insist on separate checks for payroll and expense reimbursements, just so as a last resort you have records of individual itemized deposits.
posted by PrinceValium at 1:36 PM on January 9, 2004

Oh, and since Social Security/Medicare withholdings are not reported on your tax return, you will not automatically be refunded if there are any overpayments. Doublecheck the math and make sure that the withholdings are accurate.
posted by PrinceValium at 1:39 PM on January 9, 2004

I used to write paychecks about a million years ago, and ISTR that Maine requires employers to provide details with every check. They have to generate the info to write the check so it shouldn't be difficult. You can call the Dept. of Labor for more info.
posted by theora55 at 10:41 AM on January 10, 2004

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