What are paycheck deductions? How do you change them?

February 21, 2019

Quick Answer.

Paycheck deductions are amounts taken out of your paycheck directly. They typically represent the portion of a benefit that is paid by you, in other words, your share of the cost of a benefit. It can also represent other nastier things like garnishing of wages on behalf of a 3rd party or a loan. Here are a few examples:

  • Additional health care premiums for adding a kid or spouse to your plan
  • Additional premiums for optional insurance coverage

Deductions can be pre-tax or after-tax. Most likely, your Health Care Coverage expenses are usually pre-tax. Meaning, the expense is deducted from your taxable income. After-tax deductions do not have any tax advantages - it’s just like spending money from your checking account.

This is why (it matters).

  1. These expenses can be pretty significant. Most of these deductions get very significant. For example, health care coverage for an adult will easily run close to $5K a year, on the lower end other benefits like mobile phone service can easily run over $1K a year.
  2. These expenses are easily forgotten. Since these deductions are not usually top-of-mind and ‘hidden’ in your paycheck, it’s important to review them every year or two. Especially, when you experience life changes or a new life stage.

Go further.

  1. Read What is a W-4 form? What are tax withholdings?
  2. Use the Mogami App to scan your paystub and get a breakdown of your deductions and other paystub information.
  3. Take a closer look at your paystub. You can see your expense deductions under hearings like Other Benefits and Information, Deductions (pre-tax and post-tax) how much is deducted and for what purpose is on your paystub. Keep in mind that each employer has different codes. Some can be very cryptic. Here are some examples:
Retail Earnings Statement — Deductions Section
ADP Earnings Statement — Other Benefits and Info Section

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Image credit: Photo by Marcin Simonides on Unsplash

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