Vertex42's Paycheck Calculator for Excel is a free spreadsheet template that lets users calculate where their paycheck goes every month. It calculates deductions, withholdings, and allowances, including state and local taxes, FICA, 401(k) contributions, and more. It requires Microsoft Excel 2002 or later; we also recommend having the necessary financial records on hand, such as pay stubs or tax forms.
We extracted Paycheck Calculator's zipped download and clicked it, which opened it inside Excel. It's a cleanly configured Excel spreadsheet with a variety of simple fields for entering data, which were filled with helpful example entries. Clearly demarcated sections let us enter Gross Pay; Filing Status and Withholdings, including pre-tax and post-tax adjustments; and Estimated Pay Check, including Net Takehome Pay and all deductions. A handy bar graph to the right clearly shows the size of each bite taken out of your check. Better still, most every heading had a small red triangle in its corner that called up clear, detailed explanations when we hovered our cursor over them. Clicking the developer's link took us to a Web page with documentation, screenshots, and a video demo. However, Paycheck Calculator is totally easy to use. We simply replaced the example entries with personal data and deleted those that didn't apply. The spreadsheet did the rest, displaying our estimated pay and deductions. Changing the totals was as easy as changing a data field.
Paycheck Calculator for Excel reflects U.S. tax law for the 2010 filing year, so be sure to check for updates in subsequent years, should things change. A disclaimer also notes that Paycheck Calculator is meant for educational and illustrative purposes, not as a financial tool, which means of course that it's meant to give you a pretty accurate overview of your pay and where it goes, not file your taxes. Good advice--which describes this free spreadsheet's capabilities, too.