How to Calculate the Percentage of Government Tax Withholdings

by David Sarokin

You already know that a sizable chunk of your earnings goes for taxes every paycheck. Additionally, other amounts are deducted for non-tax items like health insurance, medical savings accounts, union fees and a retirement plan. You can calculate the percentage of deductions that go for withholding taxes with some straightforward arithmetic.

1. Identify the withholding tax items on your pay stub or earnings statement. They may be listed under a category such as "withholding" or "taxes," and include federal income tax, state income tax, Social Security and Medicare. You may also have a withholding item for municipal income tax.

2. Add all your withholding taxes for the pay period.

3. Divide your total withholding by your gross income for the pay period. Multiply the answer by 100 to find the percentage of your income that goes to withholding taxes. For example, if your gross income is $1,000 and the sum of your withholding items is $250, divide 250 by 1,000 for an answer of .25. Multiply this by 100 to find that 25 percent of your gross salary goes to withholding taxes.


  • Multiplying a two-digit decimal by 100 is the same as dropping the decimal point and adding the percentage symbol. For example, .31 times 100 is 31 percent.


  • Your pay and withholding amounts may change over the course of the year so that your withholding percentage on an annual basis may be different from your calculations for a single paycheck.

About the Author

David Sarokin is a well-known specialist on Internet research. A former researcher with Google Answers, he has been profiled in the "New York Times," the "Washington Post" and in numerous online publications. Based in Washington D.C., he splits his time between several research services, writing content and his work as an environmental specialist with the federal government.