How to Calculate Taxes Withheld on a Weekly Basis

by Grace Ferguson

The amount of taxes that are withheld from your paycheck depends on your payroll frequency and the type of tax. If you’re a salaried employee, you generally receive the same amount of income each payday. Therefore, your weekly tax amount stays constant, unless you have a pay or deduction change. If you’re an hourly wage earner and do not work the same number of hours each week, your tax amount fluctuates. Follow the administering agency’s rules to calculate weekly tax withholding.

1. Determine taxable wages by subtracting pretax deductions, such as traditional 401k contributions and section 125 health benefits from your gross pay before deducting the tax.

2. Calculate Social Security tax at 4.2 percent of weekly taxable wages, as of 2011. For example, you earn $475 weekly, your Social Security withholding is $19.95 ($475 x .042 = $19.95).

3. Figure Medicare tax at 1.45 percent of weekly taxable wages, as of 2011.

4. Compute federal income tax according to the IRS Circular E tax-withholding table that matches the filing status and allowances that you put on your W-4 form. Also include your weekly taxable wages and pay period. For example, if you earn $350 a week and claim married with one allowance, then your federal income tax withholding is $13.

5. Calculate applicable state and local income tax based on the state or local revenue agency’s requirements. For example, in Pennsylvania an employer withholds state income tax at 3.07 percent of weekly taxable wages, as of 2011. In New York City, an employer withholds city income tax based on the employee’s IT-2104 form, and the weekly tax-withholding tables in Publication NYS-50-T-NYC.


  • New Jersey, Alaska and Pennsylvania require employers to withhold state unemployment tax from employees’ wages according to the rate the state unemployment agency mandates.
  • The annual wage base for Social Security tax is $106,800, as of 2011 -- your employer withholds up to that amount for the year.
  • The annual wage limit for state unemployment tax withholding varies by state.

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