PRETAX DEDUCTIONS: What It Is & How It Works 

pretax deductions
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Pretax deductions are typically any money which you, as an employer, withhold from an employee’s wage before withholding money for their taxes. A lot of employers use a calculator to get these pretax deductions since they are sensitive and employees won’t accept unnecessary deductions from their paycheck. Check out how you can get pretax deductions on W2 as well as how they work or how they affect social security benefits. 

Pretax Deductions 

A pre-tax deduction is simply any money you remove from an employee’s wages before withholding money for taxes, thereby lowering their taxable income. Pretax deductions typically go to an employee’s benefits. However, you should note that not all benefits are pretax deductions.

A lot of advantages are mostly employee and employer-making. This means that the two parties contribute to whatever the employee has. be it in the form of a premium, account, or program that the employee might have. Meanwhile, when you deduct this employee’s contribution from their wages, you have to do it either before or after taxes. This also depends on the type of benefit they possess.  

In a situation where you offer a wide range of employee benefits, there are chances that you’ll come across a pretax deduction. However, you’ll also likely come across post-tax deductions, which are the benefits you withhold after taxes. But the difference between the post-tax deductions and the pre-tax deductions is very simple. Pretax deductions are more beneficial to employees, even in more than one way. Some of the benefits include that employees get to reduce the amount of money they owe in taxes and also enjoy a tax reduction as well.

Pretax Deductions Calculator 

If you’re preparing your income tax returns or even getting ready to apply for a loan, it’s essential you have the knowledge of how to calculate your income before taxes. This is because when you understand this calculation, you will be able to make smarter financial decisions as well as budget your income accordingly. 

There is currently a calculator available online to aid you with all the pretax deduction calculations or problems your business might face. However, note also that these calculators are not 100% reliable. This means that you should properly do your research before using the pretax deductions calculator you chose online. When you want to calculate your income before taxes, you’re basically searching to find your gross income. 

So, this means that the calculator and calculation you should use to determine your income before taxes depends on whether you’re calculating it for your business or for yourself. However, in this post we are going to look at calculating pretax deductions both for your business and for yourself, starting with the business. This involves all the details you need to find out on the balance sheet in form on the balance sheet. 

1. Get the sales revenue and cost of goods sold

Sales revenue means the total sum of money your business gets from selling its goods and services without any form of deduction. The cost of goods basically means any costs relating to the manufacturing and production of the goods and services that the business sells.

2. Subtract the cost of goods sold from sales revenue

When you are done with the first step, now, it’s time to subtract the cost of goods sold from your company’s sales revenue. Follow this formula:

  • Sales revenue – cost of goods sold = gross income

For instance, in a situation whereby your company generates $50,000 in sales revenue and then $20,000 in labor expenses, you have to follow the above formula and calculate thus: $50,000-$20,000 = $30,000 (gross income).

Calculating Pretax Deductions for Individuals 

Calculating this for individuals is slightly different from the calculation for businesses because it typically involves a paycheck. The steps to calculating pretax deductions for individuals include:

1.  Make your Paycheck Available 

To calculate your annual income before taxes, get a copy of your most recent paycheck. And then, calculate the amount you were paid during that pay cycle.

2. Divide your Pay Amount by the Number of Pay Cycles

In a situation whereby you receive a monthly paycheck, make a multiplication of the amount you were paid via your last paycheck by 52. If they pay you hourly, then multiply the number of hours you work in a year by your hourly rate. The answer you arrive at is your gross annual income.

Paycheck Calculator with Pretax Deductions 

Before we proceed into the details of a paycheck calculator with pretax deductions, I want to first give a little insight on what a paycheck is and the types of paycheck we have. 

Firstly, when you are asked the question “What is a paycheck?” What first comes to your mind? For me, it’s money. However, paychecks basically compensate employees for their work. This is done by the business or company the employee works for. The period in which an employee receives this paycheck differs from bi-weekly, semi-monthly, etc. This is because it changes based on the employer’s preferences and also according to state laws and regulations where the business resides.

Types of Paychecks

Before using the calculator to calculate the pretax deductions on your paycheck, you should first know the types of paychecks available. Normally, before the world got so digitized, employees used to receive their paycheck in the form of printed checks in person or even by mail. However, currently, paychecks are electronically deposited into an employee’s bank account. Although Some employers may offer optional alternatives to paychecks, like paycards.

Having understood what a paycheck and its types are all about, we want to move on to a paycheck calculator with pretax deductions. Now, note that there are a lot of calculators online ready to take the stress off you. You basically just have to type in your details like check date, state, gross pay, gross pay method, etc. 

The calculator does much of the heavy lifting, but not from scratch. So, pay attention to helpful steps that will take you directly to your net income and they include;

  1. Get the taxable income by deducting any pretax contributions to benefits while withholding all applicable taxes for federal, state, and local governments.
  1. Deduct any post-tax contributions in order to benefit as well. Garnish wages, especially when necessary.
  1. Because you might want to get your annual income after getting your net income, this is typically simple. Just calculate your annual salary, then multiply the gross pay (before tax deductions) by the number of pay frequencies per year. 

Calculating Taxes that Paychecks Take Out 

Take the following steps to calculate the taxes that your paycheck takes out. These steps include check on employee’s withholding certificates as well as current tax brackets in order to calculate federal income tax

Calculate the Federal Insurance Contribution Act taxes. You can do this  using the latest rates for Medicare and Social Security

  • Check if state income tax and other states as well as local taxes and withholdings apply.
  • Divide the amount of all applicable taxes by the employee’s gross pay.
  • You arrive at the percentage of taxes deducted from a paycheck.

Pretax deductions on W2

Firstly, like we said above, a pretax deduction is money taken from an employee’s gross pay before automatically withholding taxes from the paycheck. Furthermore, these deductions reduce an employee’s taxable income, meaning they will owe less income tax. It also means that you will owe less FICA tax, which includes Social Security and Medicare tax. In this post we want to discuss the details of pretax deductions on W2 as well as what you should expect on the list.

The Form W2 Wage and Tax Statement is also called the Wage and Tax Statement. It is a document that every employer needs to send to each employee and the Internal Revenue Service at the end of the year. A W-2 contains the reported employee’s annual wages. and also, the amount of taxes withheld from their paychecks. 

The basic meaning of pretax deductions on W2 is that a W-2 employee is someone whose employer deducts taxes from their paychecks and submits this information to the government. The IRS also uses these W-2 forms to track their individual tax obligations.

Pretax Deduction List

Regulations and limits are always subject to change in pretax deductions. So be sure to check for the latest information on pretax deductions before making changes to your payroll. Here, I have put together a list of items that currently qualify as pretax deductions on W2, and they include:

  • Healthcare Insurance
  • Health Savings Accounts
  • Supplemental Insurance Coverage
  • Short-Term Disability
  • Long-Term Disability
  • Dental Insurance
  • Child Care Expenses
  • Medical Expenses and Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Life Insurance
  • Commuter Benefits
  • Retirement Funds
  • Tax-Deferred Investments
  • Vision Benefits
  • Parking Permits

Using more pretax deductions on W2 typically lets an employee get coverage and benefits like medical care and life insurance before tax on their gross income. In most cases, the employee pays less for health coverage than they would if they bought a private plan with after-tax.

Also, with all the best pretax deduction plans, employees will not be able to get unlimited savings from their pretax deduction plans. However, some pretax deductions may also be subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes. Hence, the Social Security and Medicare taxes an employee pays will be based on a higher gross income than shown for computed income taxes.

How Do Pretax Deductions Work?

How pretax deductions typically work is simply as defined by their definition. The different types of pretax deductions include health insurance, group-term life insurance, and retirement plans. However, the types are not only limited to these three. While employees do not necessarily need to participate in pretax deductions, it’s often in their best interest to do so. This is because pretax contributions can save them money comparing to what they would pay for in post-tax.

However, pretax deductions include that their savings are not limitless. This is because there is an amount employees can contribute on a pretax basis. Let’s talk about how pretax deductions work by looking at the types of pretax deductions.

Statutory Deductions

Statutory deductions are another form of how pretax deductions work in modern times. They are mandated by government agencies in order to pay for public services. They include federal income tax, Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax (Medicare and Social Security), and state income tax.

FICA Taxes

The FICA taxes support Social Security and Medicare. Meanwhile, some employees can pay this tax more than others. This is because employees pay Social Security tax at a rate of 6.2%. While they pay Medicare tax at 1.45% without any cap. which equals 7.65% in FICA taxes per paycheck.

Federal Income Tax

This is a good example of how pretax deductions work in federal income. The seven income tax brackets range from 10% to a 37% marginal rate by the federal government. The rates are progressively applied. This simply means that an employee’s wages will first be charged at the lowest rate, up until they reach the bracket’s threshold. Although they will continue to be charged at each subsequent rate until they reach their total gross income bracket.

State and Local Taxes

The laws for these taxes vary widely, ranging from simple to hard ones. While some charge a fixed rate on all income, others have multiple tax brackets. And then a few charge no income tax at all. Furthermore, others follow the federal tax code instead of creating their own.

How do Pretax Deductions Affect Social Security Benefits 

The way pretax deductions work, they typically make it possible for a lot of benefits and ways to affect social security in a positive way. However, you can choose a pretax deduction and pay after-tax. These are the most common reasons why most employees consider a pretax deduction:

Social Security

Pretax deductions affect benefits to social security by reducing the salary you use to calculate your Social Security at retirement. Its impact on your social security is small. Often, the money an employee saves up through these pretax deductions outweighs any benefit they may gain by waiving the deduction.

Unemployment Compensation

It’s important to note that pretax deductions reduce the salary an employee uses to calculate unemployment compensation.


In conclusion, I want you to apply what you have learned in this post and all the details of it, which includes pretax deductions on paychecks, its calculator, on W2 and lastly, how the paycheck pretax deductions calculator results affect your social security benefits as well as that of your business.


What qualifies as a pre-tax deduction?

A pre-tax deduction is any money taken from an employee’s gross pay before taxes are withheld from the paycheck. These deductions reduce the employee’s taxable income, meaning they will owe less income tax. They may also owe less FICA tax, including Social Security and Medicare.

Is it better to do pre-tax or post-tax?

Contribution amounts are also taxed during future withdrawals. Even so, pre-tax deductions are often the better choice when employees need to save more quickly. Post-tax deductions offer employees the advantage of higher take-home pay. This higher pay is because individuals have already paid taxes on their contributions.

How do pre-tax contributions work?

A pretax contribution is one that is made before any taxes are paid on the amount. Pretax contributions are designed to encourage people to save for retirement. An advantage of pretax contributions to retirement accounts is that they can reduce your income tax burden for the current year.

What benefits are pre-tax?

What are the pre-tax benefits? In short, with pre-tax benefits, the benefit cost is deducted from an employee’s paycheck before income and employment taxes are applied. As a result, this lowers the total income amount that is taxed, which reduces the income taxes the employee is responsible for paying.

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