What Is Year-to-date Payroll, and Why Does it Matter?

If you’re a small business owner with employees, a significant portion of your business’s expenses goes toward paying wages. That’s why you should pay attention to your year-to-date (YTD) payroll expenses. What is year-to-date payroll?

What is year-to-date payroll?

Year-to-date payroll is the amount of money spent on payroll from the beginning of the year (calendar or fiscal) to the current payroll date. YTD is calculated based on your employees’ gross incomes. Gross income is the amount an employee earns before taxes and deductions are taken out.

YTD can also include the money paid to your independent contractors. Independent contractors are not your employees—they are self-employed people hired for a specific job.

For employees, year-to-date payroll is their gross income. For a business, year-to-date represents the earnings all employees earned. It also includes payments paid in this year, but not earned in this year. For example, include a commission sale made at the end of last year but not paid until this year.

Why is YTD in payroll important?

The year-to-date payroll lets you compare your employee payroll expenses to the annual budget for those costs. And, you can determine the amount that goes toward payroll compared to your total expenses.

Year-to-date payroll is also important for filling out employee Form W-2s. If you run payroll by hand, you need to know how much you paid each employee so Form W-2 is accurate.

Understanding year-to-date payroll lets you know if you are on track to meet your projected results for the year. You can make decisions like hiring and budget cuts based on YTD payroll.

Year-to-date payroll also helps you predict your tax liability. As a small business owner, you need to know your quarterly and yearly tax liabilities. If your tax liability is high, hold off on making big purchases.

When changing your payroll software, entering in YTD payrolls is important so that taxable wage bases are calculated correctly.

Don’t let payroll tasks stress you out at the end of the year.

Download our free end-of-year payroll checklist so you know what to do before and after the end of each year.

YTD payroll and pay stubs

Your employees can see their year-to-date payroll earnings on their pay stubs. You should provide a pay stub each time you pay an employee.

A pay stub shows employees the wages earned for the pay period as well as the year-to-date. It lists their gross wages, taxes and deductions, and net wages.

The information can be helpful for employees trying to predict if they will owe money to the IRS before they file.

Year-to-date payroll calculator

To calculate YTD payroll, look at each employee’s pay stub and add the year-to-date gross incomes listed.

For example, you have three employees at your small business: Cindy, James, and Neil. Cindy earned a total of $24,000 in gross wages year-to-date. James earned $22,000, and Neil earned $19,000. By adding these three year-to-date wages, you total $65,000.

Neil also earned a commission of $2,000 at the end of last year but wasn’t paid until the beginning of this year. Your business’s year-to-date payroll is $67,000.

How to calculate YTD payroll without pay stubs

Some employers are not required to give employees pay stubs. If you do not give pay stubs, multiply each employee’s gross income per pay period by the number of paychecks they have received

For example, you have two employees: Joe and Linda. They each received wages for 10 pay periods. Linda earned $2,000 per pay period in gross wages, and Joe earned $1,500 per pay period. Linda’s year-to-date payroll is $20,000 and Joe’s is $15,000. Your business’s total year-to-date payroll is $35,000.

Looking for an easy way to keep track of your year-to-date payroll? Patriot’s online payroll software lets you run payroll in three easy steps and maintain records. You can view all your payroll information and select the pay date range. Never lose track of your year-to-date payroll again. Try it for free today!

This article has been updated from its original publication date of May 24, 2017.

This is not intended as legal advice; for more information, please click here.

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