Ultimate Guide To Paycheck Stubs

Ultimate Guide To Paycheck Stubs in 2024
March 1, 2024
Time to read: 14 minutes
March 1, 2024
6 min read


Are you an employer looking to understand pay stubs better? Or are you an employee who wants to ensure they're getting paid correctly? Regardless of which side of the coin you're on, it's important to have a strong understanding of pay stubs for both parties involved in the employment agreement.

With that in mind, we've created the ultimate guide to paycheck stubs. We'll provide an overview of paycheck stubs, what information they typically include, and some tips on reading and understanding them.

We'll also touch on some common mistakes employers and employees make regarding paycheck stubs. Let's get started.

What Are Paycheck Stubs?

A paycheck stub, also known as a pay stub, check stub or wage statement, is a document that summarizes an employee's earnings over a specific period (usually one payroll cycle). It itemizes the wages earned, any deductions taken out, and the net pay (the take-home pay).

Most employers are required by law to provide their employees with a pay stub at the time of each payment. Some states have additional requirements, such as providing itemized descriptions of deductions or specifying the pay period dates.

Also, if an employee is paid with direct deposit, the employer may provide a pay stub or give the employee access to their earnings information online.

Ultimate Guide To Pay Stubs

What Information Is Added On Paycheck Stub?

With identifying employee information and wage details, a pay stub provides employers and employees with a way to know how much an employee has earned and what taxes or other deductions have been taken out of their paycheck. Here are some examples of the information you might find on a pay stub.

1. Employee's Basic Information

It would include the employee's name, address, and social security number. The dates of the specific pay period and year would also be included, as well as the payment date. The employer's name and address would be shown too. It is important to check that this information is accurate.

2. Employee's Pay Breakdown

If the employee is paid hourly or on salary, their pay rate and the number of hours worked per pay period would be indicated. The gross wages, the amount before deductions are made, for specific pay periods and year to date would also be included. This is followed by a breakdown of deductions, like taxes and retirement contributions.

3. Federal and State Taxes Withheld from Employee's Paycheck

Federal income tax withholdings, like FICA taxes, Social Security, and Medicare, would be shown. State income tax withholdings would also be included. A year-to-date section for federal and state tax would give you an idea of how much has been deducted. Local taxes, like New York City, would also be included.

If you have any deductions taken out of your paycheck, they should be itemized. These deductions could be for health insurance, life insurance, a retirement plan, union dues, wage garnishments, or other optional insurance benefits.

Also, your pay stub should have a year-to-date section that tells you how much has been deducted for taxes and other withholdings. This is helpful if you need to file a tax return or make an estimated payment.

If your employer offers health insurance, you will probably see deductions for both the employer's share and your share of the premiums. These deductions would also be listed if you opted to contribute to a flexible spending or health savings account.

Deductions for long-term disability or short-term disability insurance, as well as vision and dental premiums, might also be taken out of your paycheck.

4. Miscellaneous Deductions

There could be deductions for things like 401k expenses and child support payments. This section would give you a better understanding of what is being deducted from the employee's pay.

5. Other Information

The taxes that are deducted from the paycheck, based on the W-4 form, would be indicated in this section. The net pay, the gross pay minus deductions, would also be included. Voluntary deductions, like for other retirement plans, health insurance, and life insurance, will be shown in this section. Contributions would also be displayed.

Formats Of Paycheck Stubs

Formats Of Pay Stubs

The way you receive your paycheck stub can vary depending on the job. Sometimes, a pay stub might be attached to your physical paper check. However, if you've paid through direct deposit, the paycheck stub may come as a separate document from the check itself.

Online payroll services might also offer access to electronic pay stubs. Whenever you have access to your paycheck stubs, whether in physical or digital form, check them carefully and regularly. This way, you can verify that all your information is correct. Both paper and electronic versions of pay stubs should be given the same level of attention.

When Will You Need A Paycheck Stub?

Several situations may arise where you'll need to provide your pay stub verification of income. Here are a few examples:

1. Personal Loan

To ensure that your income information is accurate, most lenders will request to see your pay stub when applying for a personal loan. The number of pay stubs required may vary depending on the lender, but it's not uncommon to need to provide multiple months' worth. Also, if you have good credit, you may not need to provide a pay stub.

2. Auto Loan

Since an auto loan is a secured loan, meaning the lender can repossess the vehicle if you default on your payments, they will want to ensure you can afford the monthly payment. To do this, you'll typically need to share your annual income when applying for the loan. If your credit isn't great, you may also need to show pay stubs as proof of income.

3. Renting

Except for some high-end rentals, most landlords will want to see recent paycheck stubs when they apply to rent their property. They want to know that you have a steady income and can afford the monthly rent payments. Typically, one or two months' worth of pay stubs is all that's required. Some landlords may require bank statements in addition to your pay stubs for large deposits. While it's not always necessary, having a pay stub when applying to rent can give you a leg up on the competition.

4. Mortgage Loan

When you apply for a mortgage loan, the lender will want to know your gross monthly income to calculate your debt-to-income ratio (DTI). Your DTI is the percentage of your monthly income that goes towards debts, such as your mortgage payment, car payment, student loans, etc. A high DTI can make it difficult to obtain a loan because it indicates you may have trouble making your monthly payments. For this reason, most lenders will request to see your pay stubs when applying for a mortgage. They'll typically ask for one or two months' worth, although some may ask for more depending on your employment situation.

5. Compensation Claim

If you file a compensation claim, such as for workers' compensation or disability, the insurance company will likely request pay stubs as part of their investigation. They want to verify your income so they can properly calculate the benefits you're entitled to receive.

It's not uncommon to need to provide several months' worth of pay stubs when filing a compensation claim. Also, if you're self-employed, the insurance company may ask for additional documentation, such as tax returns, to verify your income.

6. Government Benefits

You'll need proof of your income if you're applying for government benefits, such as food stamps or housing assistance. This is typically done by submitting recent pay stubs. The number of pay stubs required may vary depending on the benefit you're applying for.

While not an exhaustive list, these are some common situations where you may be required to provide your pay stubs.

State Requirements For Paycheck Stubs

Pay Stub Requirements by State

The requirements for employee pay stubs vary from state to state. States can be grouped into different categories: those with no requirement, those where employees must have access to their pay information, and those where employers must provide a paper copy of paycheck stubs. Here is a breakdown of what employers need to know:

1. No Requirement States

In these states, employers are not obligated to provide employee pay stubs. They include Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, South Dakota, and Tennessee.

2. Access States

In these states, employers must provide a way for their employees to access their pay information. This can be in paper or digital format. The states are Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

3. Access/Print States

The employer must provide a paper copy of paycheck stubs in these states. If delivered digitally, they must ensure the employee can access a printer. The states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Mexico, North Carolina, Texas, Vermont, and Washington.

4. Opt-In or Opt-Out States

A few states are categorized further into opt-in or opt-out states. In opt-in states, employers must get consent from employees before changing away from paper paycheck stubs. The state is Hawaii. In opt-out states, if an employer changes to digital pay slips, they must make it easy for employees to opt out in favor of paper pay slips. The states are Delaware, Oregon, and Minnesota.

Why Is Paycheck Stub Essential?

Why Is Pay Stub Essential

To most employers, the pay stub is an essential document. It offers valuable insights into the employee's compensation history. The pay stub can also be used to keep track of employee benefits and deductions. Several states have even enacted laws that require employers to provide employees with pay stubs. Some main roles include:

1. Abide By-Laws

Different states have different laws regarding pay stubs. It is important for employers to be aware of these laws and to comply with them. In the US, federal law does not require employers to provide pay stubs to their employees. However, many states do require employers to issue some sort of statement. Therefore, employers must know the laws in the state where they operate.

EU has different laws too. In the European Union, employers in member nations have to have a system set up to track the number of hours employees work.

This system must meet the criteria of being “objective, reliable, and accessible.” A payroll system that tracks hours and pay rates can help employers fulfill these requirements.

For Australia, tracking the hours worked and wages received is a must. There are recommendations from the government for employers to adopt best practices regarding tracking employee hours and pay.

This way, they can avoid making payroll mistakes and getting fined by Fair Work Inspectors.

2. Ensure Accurate Payment

To avoid mistakes, it is important to have an accurate and up-to-date pay stub. The pay stub should include the employee's name, Social Security number, address, job title, and dates of employment. It should also show the hourly pay rate, the number of hours worked, and any overtime hours. This information helps employers calculate the correct pay for each employee.

Also, the pay stub can be used to track employee benefits and deductions. This information is important for ensuring employees get the correct benefits and deductions from their paychecks. While most employers use payroll software to generate pay stubs, some still use paper records.

3. Prove Employment And Salary History

You may need to prove your employment and salary history in several situations. For example, you may need to provide this information when applying for a mortgage or other loan, during a background check for a new job, or when renting an apartment.

Pay stubs can come in handy in these situations, as they provide detailed information about your employment and earnings. Remember that pay stubs are generally considered legal documents, so it is important to ensure that the information on them is accurate. If you have any questions about the accuracy of your pay stubs, you should contact your employer.

Also, if you are self-employed, you may need to provide pay stubs or other documentation to prove your income. This is especially true if you are applying for a loan or mortgage.

4. Help When Filing Taxes

Pay stubs often include a year-to-date calculation of your earnings to make things easier for you and your accountant at tax time. This can be a lifesaver if you're self-employed or have other complex income situations. In other cases, you may have to do a lot of math yourself or track down old documents come tax time.

Also, if the IRS audits you, pay stubs can be easily accessed and provided as documentation. While paper pay stubs can also be used for this purpose, they may be harder to track down if you've moved or changed jobs since they were issued.

5. Monitor Hours Worked And Overtime

If you are an hourly employee, your pay stub can help you keep track of the number of hours you've worked and the overtime hours you've accrued. This information is important for ensuring that you are being paid correctly. It can also be helpful if you need to request time off or take a leave of absence.

For salaried employees, pay stubs can help you keep track of the number of hours you've worked each week. This information will help if you need to request a change in your work schedule or take a leave of absence.

6. Verify Proof of Income

Proof of income is an essential part of many different financial events throughout one's life - and this goes for both employees and employers.

Some of these life events include but are not limited to:

  • Getting approved for a personal loan

  • Being approved for a residence

  • Or even determining the benefits you'll receive on a health insurance plan.

One of the most common forms of proof of income is actually a common pay stub. Many people find themselves needing a form of proof of income and they have no idea that they can create pay stubs online using an online paycheck stub maker or an online pay stub generator that will quickly and effectively solve their problem and get them approved for that new apartment or personal loan!

Using a pay stub for this purpose has become commonplace across the entire United States and the chances are that your new landlord won't be any different!

How Long To Keep Your Paycheck Stubs?

How Long To Keep Your Pay Stubs

The timeline for retaining your paycheck stubs is not set in stone. Although they act as income verification, you don't need to keep them forever. A good rule of thumb is to hang on to them for at least one year. They come in handy during tax season and can help match your W-2 or Social Security contributions.

After paying taxes for the year, your tax return will suffice to confirm how much you earned. This is when you can start thinking about getting rid of those pay stubs. If your employer doesn't offer electronic versions, scanning and uploading them to the cloud is a great way to save space in your house.

In short, hang on to your pay stubs for at least one year after paying taxes. If you don't have electronic access, scan and store them using a cloud-based solution.

How To Create A Paycheck Stub?

How To Create A Pay Stub

Several options are available when it comes to creating pay stubs. These include:

1. Manual Preparation

A pay stub template is the easiest way to create a pay stub. Simply download the template, fill in the required information and print it out. Manual preparation is less feasible as it can be time-consuming and may not produce the most accurate results.

2. Online Check Stub Maker

Several online paycheck stub generators can be used to create pay stubs. These generators require the user to input relevant information and generate pay stubs automatically. Also, some online pay stub generators allow users to download and print the pay stubs, while others email them directly.

3. Online Payroll Service

For businesses with several employees, an online payroll service may be the best option for creating pay stubs. These services typically manage all aspects of payroll, including preparing pay stubs. Online payroll services usually offer a variety of features, such as direct deposit and tax filing, and can be customized to meet the specific needs of a business.

Try Real Check Stubs' Employee pay stub Generator

RealCheckStubs Employee pay stub Generator

With our easy-to-use online pay stub generator, you can create professional and authentic-looking pay stubs in minutes. We have a variety of pay stub templates to choose from, so you can customize your pay stub to fit your specific needs. And because our system is constantly updated with customer feedback, you can be sure that you're getting the best possible product.

Also, our pay stub templates are unique in style and layout. So if you're looking for something different from the cookie-cutter pay stub generators, Real Check Stubs is the way to go. You can create:

  • Quarter Page: With this template, you can present your pay stub information in a very efficient way. All the important information that needs to be reviewed on a pay stub can be seen at a glance.

  • Half Page: With the half-page template, you can spread the pertinent information over the template and take more than one glance to compile. These paystubs are popular when there is more information to place on the pay stub, or there is a need for more customization.

  • Full Page: The full-page paystub template gives companies, both large and small, the space they need to add custom fields, make notes, keep track, and include additional income and deduction fields.

Our template gallery is constantly being updated with new templates, so be sure to check back often. Just select the template you want to use and fill in the information. Then, download your pay stub as a PDF or print it out. It's that easy.

Contact Us

Real Check Stubs provides 24/7 customer support for our pay stub generator. We want to make sure that you get you what you need, when you need it.

If you have any questions, would like to chat, or need help creating your stub online, please create an account or contact us here.

We're looking forward to hearing from you!


1. Is Pay Stub Same As Pay Check?

No, they're not quite the same. A pay stub is a section of a paycheck that itemizes an employee's wages and shows taxes and deductions taken out. Also, the net pay that the employee receives is displayed. The pay stub is sometimes provided on a separate paper from the paycheck itself. It will have the same employer information and your personal information at the top. It will also list your gross earnings for the pay period, which is the total amount of your before-tax earnings. All mandatory deductions, such as Social Security, Medicare, and state and federal taxes, are taken out.

2. How Often Are Paycheck Stubs Issued?

Most employers issue pay stubs to their employees every pay period. For hourly workers, this is typically once a week. For salaried employees, it is usually bi-weekly or monthly. Employers are required to provide employees with a pay stub for each pay period. It is a good idea to keep all of your pay stubs in a safe place. You may need them for tax purposes or to verify income if you apply for a loan.

3. Is My Employer Required to Give Me a Paycheck Stub?

As per the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers are required to keep payroll records, though no federal law requires them to provide pay stubs to their employees. Some states require employers to give their employees access to their pay stubs, while others require the employees to be given printed pay stubs or allow employers to provide digital pay stubs – though laws vary from state to state. You can check local laws to learn your state's laws regarding pay stubs.


Paycheck stubs are important in managing your finances and ensuring you are paid what you are owed. By understanding what pay stubs are, how to read them, and what information they contain, you can take control of your finances and ensure that you are being paid correctly. They can also be a useful tool for budgeting and tracking your spending.

We hope our guide has helped you better understand pay stubs and given you the confidence to take control of your finances. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us. We're always happy to help!