How To Calculate W-2 Wages From Pay Stub?


Filing your taxes can be a tedious chore if you're not familiar with the process. However, all of the information you need for your W2 is located directly on your pay stub. You can easily locate this information to know approximately how much your tax return will be. Read on if you're interested in learning about how to calculate W2 wages.

Determine Your Taxable Income 

You can find the year to date totals on your most recent paycheck. For better accuracy, get this information from the last paycheck of the year. Also, make sure that you're not using the number for the most recent pay period. You'll want the total of all the wages that you've earned that year. This amount may need to be adjusted if you have any deductions that are excluded from taxable income.
These types of deductions will include:

  • 401(K) deductions 
  • Premiums for health insurance
  • Premiums for group life insurance
  • Vision and dental insurance premiums 
  • Dependent care reimbursement accounts 

You will subtract any of these items from your gross taxable wages. The number you come to should match the number you see in Box 1 on your W2 when you receive it. You'll take these same steps when figuring out your state taxable income. Should this information be incorrect, you may need to reach out to your company's payroll department for an explanation. 

Click Here to Create Your Form W-2 in Less Than 2 Minutes

Calculate Medicare and Social Security Taxable Wages 

Calculating your W2 wages for Medicare and Social Security taxable wages is similar to finding your taxable income. However, there is a maximum amount of wages that is taxable for social security tax. For any wages earned during the year of 2017, this is capped at $127,200. You'll start by looking at your most recent pay stub. Look at the gross taxable income for the year to date.

You will take this number and subtract any pre-tax deductions. These pre-tax deductions will be similar to your federal and state wages. However, they are not identical. Pre-tax deductions for medicare and social security taxes will include:

  • Insurance premiums (medical, dental, or vision insurance)
  • Life insurance premiums up to $50,000 in life insurance coverage

Also, remember to deduct any employer paid benefits that you may have received throughout the year. 

Things to Note When Calculating Your W2 Wages

Tax time can be a bit confusing for the average American. It's not always cut and dry. Each tax return will depend on your personal exemptions and expenses throughout the year. You should note that when you're using your paystub to calculate W2 wages this is only an estimate. When figuring out your federal and state taxable income, you're essentially using your gross pay and removing your pre-tax deductions. But these numbers could differ based on your specific situation. You may have additional personal exemptions that should be included.

You could either do it manually or use ThePayStubs W-2 Form Generator to create your document automatically in a matter of minutes. All you need to do is insert your information; it will then calculate your taxes and generate a Form W-2 for you. Try it now and thank me later! Remember to generate your own paystubs as well with the check stub maker!

Frequently Asked Questions

Using your calculated W-2 wages, you can estimate your tax refund or liability by comparing the withheld federal income tax with your expected tax liability based on your filing status and deductions.

Subtract any pre-tax deductions, such as 401(k) contributions, health insurance premiums, or flexible spending accounts, from your gross income.

Federal income tax withheld can be found in the "Taxes" or "Deductions" section of your pay stub, often listed as "Fed Tax" or "Federal Income Tax."

Start with your gross income, subtract pre-tax deductions, and add any taxable fringe benefits to determine your taxable income.

Gross income is typically listed as "Gross Pay" or "Earnings" on your pay stub. This is your income before any deductions or taxes are applied.

Social Security and Medicare taxes are mandatory federal payroll taxes that contribute to these respective programs. They are often listed on your pay stub as "FICA" or "OASDI/Medicare."

W-2 wages are the total taxable income reported to the IRS by your employer, including wages, salaries, and tips.

A pay stub is a document provided by your employer that details your earnings, deductions, and taxes for each pay period.

You can find more information about taxes on the IRS website (, as well as through tax professionals and financial advisors.

Calculating W-2 wages from your pay stub helps you estimate your tax refund or liability and plan your financial goals accordingly.
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How To Calculate W-2 Wages From Pay Stub?
James Wilson

After graduating from McCombs School of Business in Texas, James joined ThePayStubs as a CPA to make sure the numbers we provide our clients are correct. Read More

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