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Your paycheck stub will generally include deductions for federal, state and local taxes, as well as for Social Security, health insurance and retirement plans. Some common abbreviations include FICA (Federal Insurance Contribution Act), which is the amount deducted for Social Security, and OASDI (Old Age Survivor and Disability Act). Other abbreviations refer to deductions for child support or other court-ordered deductions. Employers and payroll processing companies often have their own set of abbreviations. If you're not sure what a deduction is for, ask your human resources office or your employer.
Abbreviations such as FT, FWT and Fed Tax are all common when providing the deduction amounts for federal income tax withheld from a paycheck. This amount varies based on your personal situation and your completed Form W-4, which tells the employer how much to withhold for taxes. All deductions may be divided into current and YTD, short for Year to Date.
Abbreviations such as ST, SWT and St Tax refer to the amount deducted from a paycheck for state income tax. This amount also depends upon your personal situation and your W-4. You might see your state abbreviation along with the word "tax" to show this deduction, especially if you have state tax deducted for the state in which you reside and for the state in which you work. For example, Pennsylvania state income tax might be abbreviated as "PA Tax."
Local tax deductions are commonly for a locality such as a city, county, township or school district. Not all locations, or employers, withhold local tax. The pay stub abbreviations for local tax deductions vary greatly. For instance, "Jonestown" could appear as JONESTWN, JTWN, JNSTWN or some other variation.
Social Security & Medicare Tax
Social Security tax is most often abbreviated as FICA, SS (Social Security), SSWT (Social Security Withholding Tax) or OASDI on pay stubs. Medicare tax may be abbreviated as MWT or Med. Most wages are subject to these two types of taxes even when the earnings are not subject to federal, state and local taxes.
Child Support and Court-Ordered Deductions
If you are paying court-ordered child support or have a lien against your wages, your payroll stub may reference the court docket number of the court that issued the order, or the agency or other entity named in the order. Check with your employer or human resources office to get details on these deductions.
Some employers offer health insurance, life insurance, retirement plans, charitable contributions and other savings plans that involve automatic deductions from each paycheck. Others may deduct a small amount per pay or quarter for uniforms and other equipment provided by the company. If you question a certain deduction, see whether the abbreviation makes sense with the name of the insurance company, savings plan and charitable organizations offered through your employer. If it is unclear why an amount has been deducted from your pay, take your stub to human resources or the payroll department and ask.