The Important Pay Stub Abbreviations to Know: A Helpful Cheat Sheet

There are many different pay stub abbreviations you should understand. If you would like to learn more about these abbreviations, you should click here.

There are a few different categories on your paycheck. These categories denote personal and employer information, hours and earnings, and taxes and deductions. Under each of these are many different abbreviations. 

Check out our guide for decoding pay stub abbreviations. 

Pay Stub Abbreviations 

You do not need a degree in accounting to accurately read your earnings statement. Keep reading to learn how to read each category on your paycheck. 

Personal and Employer Information

At the very top of your paycheck stub is your personal information as well as the information your employer uses to pay you. This area should include: 

Your full name.
Your Social Security Number (SSN): A nine number code (may show as xxx-xx-0000) used for identification and tax purposes. 
Employee ID number: Identifying code specific to your employer.
Pay Period: The time period you worked (typically one or two weeks long). 
Pay Date: The day your paycheck is issued.
This information is standard and will be present on all pay stubs you receive or make. 

Hours and Earnings 

This section on your pay stub lists the number of hours you have worked and compensation. The abbreviations in the section are: 

Gross pay: The amount of money you earned before tax deductions.
Net pay: Your take-home pay, or your earnings after tax deductions.
Rate: The amount of money you are paid per hour. 
Hours: The number of hours worked during the pay period.
Current total: The total gross wages after any additional forms of income (overtime, tips, bonus pay, etc.) are added.
YTD gross: YTD stands for Year-To-Date and this is the gross amount of money you have earned during the fiscal year. 
YTD net pay: The amount of money you earned during the fiscal year after tax deductions.
YTD deductions: The amount of money deducted from your paycheck during the fiscal year for taxes, insurance, and potentially other programs. 

The numbers reflected in this area are not the same for workers in different fields. A person who works in food service may have a section including tips and tip deductions.

If you work for a salary rather than at an hourly wage, the sections underneath rate and hours may be empty.  

Taxes and Deductions 

Reading this section tends to be everyone’s least favorite part of receiving their paycheck. Depending on your field of work and tax status, you may have quite a long list of taxes and deductions. The most common abbreviations you will see are: 

Allowances: This corresponds to the W-4 you filed when you started working. The number (1 or 0) marks how much money is taken for tax purposes. 
FWT: This stands for federal withholding tax. It is the money withheld from your paycheck to be paid to the federal government. 
SWT: This stands for state withholding tax. In 43 states, a certain amount is withheld from your paycheck used to pay for public services, housing, local government aid, environmental projects, etc. 
SS Tax: A mandatory amount deducted from your paycheck to pay Social Security taxes. The amount is subject to change but is currently 6.3% of your gross pay.
Medicare Tax: Another mandatory deduction of 1.45% of your gross pay. 
401(k): An retirement savings plan you may pay into by electing to withhold money from your paycheck. 

Reading Your Pay Stubs 

There is an overwhelming amount of information on your paycheck. It is important to know how much you are making and where your money is going.

Hopefully, our guide on pay stub abbreviations helped you decode your earning statement. Check out our other posts for more personal finance tips and lifestyle advice.