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Pay Stubs: Keeping Tabs on Your Income
Never overlook your pay stub in your eagerness to endorse and cash your check. These little documents contain a wealth of information that you may need one day for employment, tax or housing purposes. Parents, in particular, may need to provide recent pay stubs when applying for financial assistance, medical programs or school scholarships.
What Is a Pay Stub?
Pay stubs provide regular documentation of an employee's compensation. They are issued when a direct deposit is paid to the employee's financial account or are attached to a paper paycheck. Information included on a pay stub typically includes:
- Amount paid during the associated payroll period.
- Withdrawals or deductions, such as tax payments or insurance premiums.
- Cumulative payments made during the current year.
Your pay stubs can help you keep track of your income and ensure that you are being paid what you are owed. They can also be used to verify your identity, prove tax withholding and confirm your income.
Pay stubs can contain a lot of sensitive information, including your Social Security number, legal name, employer name and how much money you make. In the wrong hands, this information could be used to steal your identity. Treat your pay stubs as you would any other sensitive document: Store them in a secure place, and, if you are disposing of paper pay stubs, be sure to shred them first.
Is a Pay Stub Proof of Income?
Many landlords, creditors and government agencies accept pay stubs as proof of income. However, you may be required to supply additional documentation, such as income tax returns. The person or organization that requests your pay stubs may also contact your employer to verify the information.
Don't be offended if, after providing your pay stubs, you are asked for additional proof of income or learn that your boss got a call from the requester seeking to verify your income. Requesters routinely verify pay stubs for the following reasons:
- Forging a pay stub is easy.
- A pay stub is not proof of current employment.
- The information on the pay stub represents your income from only one employer. Tax returns and bank statements are a better indicator of your entire income.
Not all employers provide paper pay stubs. In some cases, your pay stubs may be stored electronically on an employer or payroll service website. Ask your employer about pay stub storage so you'll know how to access them in the future. Also, when you leave a job, download your pay stubs when you depart so you won't have to return to your former employer to obtain them.
How to Get an Electronic or Paper Pay Stub
If you haven't been saving your pay stubs, never received them, or are missing one or two, there are a couple methods for tracking them down:
- Check your employee website: Pay stubs, or at least a record of payments, may be accessible from your employee account. If your employer uses a third-party payroll company and you have an account with them, check the payroll website to find your pay stubs.
- Contact your payroll department: If you can't locate your slips online, contact your payroll department. They may be able to supply you with copies of your pay stubs. This may take some time, so allow at least a few days for your payroll department to get the stubs to you.
Pay Stub Alternatives
If you are unable to access your pay stubs through your employer or your own records, you still have a few options for providing income verification:
- Log into your bank account online; visit your "account activity" panel and do a search for deposits. Direct deposit entries may include reference numbers, your employer's name and an employer numeric identification code. This level of detail can help you establish the legitimacy of the deposit. A paper check deposit may include a printable image of the check.
- If you receive email or text alerts of direct deposits to your account, you could print these out to substantiate bank statements.
- Ask your employer for a letter that verifies your income.
- Print out last year's income tax return. While this isn't a verification of your current income, it can be helpful to include in your documentation.
Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.