Payroll FAQs

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Direct Deposit?

Pay Checks and Pay Stubs?

W2, Taxes, Bonds, Deductions, and Relates Topics?

How do I sign up or change my direct deposit? 

Direct deposit is as good as people say it is and then some. Your money is in your account on payday. You do not have to be at work to pick up a check. (After all, we all need a vacation sometimes.) You do not have to worry about losing a check or having it stolen. Many financial institutions will give you a free checking account if you have direct deposit. To start or change direct deposit, simply get a Payroll Direct Deposit Request form from your agency, fill it out, attach a check that you have written VOID on, and send all documents to Central Payroll. It usually takes two pay cycles for the direct deposit to kick in.

What's the difference between a MECU direct deposit and a MECU deduction?

A MECU deduction is a flat amount withheld from your pay that may go to a number of different MECU accounts. A MECU direct deposit is when your entire take-home pay (whatever the amount) goes to your MECU checking or savings account.

As an employee/retiree for the City of Baltimore, why do I receive a paystub? Why should I keep my paystub?

The City is required by Maryland law to give you a pay stub, but please do not throw it away. You may need it to verify employment to the Municipal Employees’ Credit Union (MECU) or other lenders when obtaining a loan, or for many other reasons. For example, if you have a garnishment, student loan, or tax lien, the information on your pay stub can assist you to keep track of your balance.

My home address changed. How do I get it changed on my pay stub?

Contact your agency personnel office; they will send the proper paperwork to Central Payroll. If your address is not current, you could miss important mailings from Personnel, Employee Benefits, Retirement, or Central Payroll. If you moved out-of-state, call 410-260-7980 to learn if you are exempt from Maryland taxes. Sorry, but Central Payroll is unable to collect taxes for any other state.

How long should I keep my pay stubs?

It is recommended that you keep them forever or at least until five years after you retire. Employers are only required to keep payroll records on former employees for four to five years. People often learn this practice the hard way: they are ready to retire but do not have old pay stubs to verify their work history. Besides, you can fit twenty years of pay stubs in a small box.

The name on my pay stub does not match the name on my Social Security card. What do I do?

That depends on which one is wrong. If the name on your pay stub is wrong, contact your agency personnel office. If the name on your Social Security card is wrong, contact the Social Security Administration. If their records are not accurate, your earnings may not be credited properly and you may end up receiving lower Social Security benefits than you are entitled to.

I just received my paycheck and it does not seem right. What should I do?

The first thing to do is to examine your pay stub carefully. Compare it to the stub for your last pay. Did a deduction change? If so, you can call one of the numbers on the reverse side of the stub. But if you think your earnings are not right, contact your payroll clerk. Earnings problems can only be solved through your agency. Questions about the level or longevity movements or your leave balance should also be directed to your agency.

When did I use the sick leave conversion days that show on my pay stub?

Look at your pay stubs back to the first pay date in December. On one or more of them, you will see that the number "used" changed. If there is a problem, see your agency.

What happens if I take a leave day that I have not earned?

If you take a leave day that you have not earned, you will not get paid for that day. It is your responsibility to check your balance (on your last pay stub or with your payroll clerk) when you put in a request for leave. Do not assume that your payroll clerk will keep track of this for you.

What is the Dept/Loc code on my pay stub?

The Department Code identifies the agency for which you work and your payroll cycle. The Location Code identifies a group of people who are on the same payroll listing; typically those who work in the same place and report to the same supervisor. Central Payroll often asks for these codes when you contact them with questions or if you submit any payroll forms.

What do the dashes next to an itemized deduction on my stub mean?

They mean that the deduction was not taken because you did not have enough money left to take it. This could be because your check was less than usual, a deduction increased, or you were receiving Worker's Compensation (Central Payroll does not take deductions from Worker's Comp payments). You must make arrangements to make up any missed deductions. See the back of your pay stub for the appropriate phone number to call.

I lost my last pay stub; how do I obtain a duplicate?

The Bureau of Accounting and Payroll Services offers all active employees access to an Employee Self Service Portal to view paychecks and print copies when needed. The ADP iPayStatements will provide copies of your earnings statements and W-2 forms 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

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Why do my savings bonds sometimes show a different issue month than the pay period when I bought them? 

They don't. You're confusing the pay period dates with the pay date. It is the pay date that determines the month the bond is issued. By the way, this same "rule" applies to determine what year your earnings are included in your W-2.

How do I change the mailing address for my savings bonds?

You should stop by Central Payroll and fill out a savings bond card. You can also send in a letter requesting a savings bond address change-just be sure you give the new address, including your Social Security number and signature, and provide a daytime phone number. (Savings bond addresses are kept separately from home addresses because many employees purchase bonds for other people such as children or grandchildren.)

How do I change a voluntary deduction?

Whether starting, changing, or stopping a voluntary deduction, you must go through the appropriate party. Look at the back of your pay stub, all of the phone numbers you need are listed.

My pay stub shows an Adjustment to Earnings - Taxable (or Non-taxable). What is this?

The amount shown could be for a single adjustment or for a combination of adjustments. These could include some pay adjustments, meal money, child support fees, student loan, bankruptcy payments, and accident leave/Workers Comp payments.

Will you send me a printout of my deductions and how much was taken out during each pay period?

Central Payroll is unable to provide that service. Your pay stub is your receipt for payments of all deductions and this is another important reason why you should retain your pay stub.

I am over 65 years old. Why do you still deduct Social Security and Medicare from my pay?

There is no age limit on paying Social Security, even if you are already collecting benefits. If you work, the City is required to collect these taxes.

The taxes changed on my pay stub, but I did not change anything. What happened?

There are many reasons, and in some cases, you did do something, you just did not know it. Every year the federal government issues new tax tables, and sometimes the State or Maryland counties change their tax rates-these changes show up on the first pay of the new year. Changing your marital status will change your federal tax. Changing your home address could change your State tax if the local tax rates are different. If the amount of your pension, health care, or deferred compensation deductions change, you may see a change in your federal, State, Social Security, or Medicare deductions.

When should I file a new W-4 form?

Whenever the number of exemptions you claim changes. This could happen if you have a baby, get divorced, or a child leaves home. If you have questions about the number of exemptions you should claim, it is advised that you speak with a professional tax advisor/tax accountant.

I am claiming zero exemptions and I still don't have enough tax withheld. What can I do?

Fill out a new W-4 form (see below FAQ Entry for more information) and enter a dollar amount in the box for an additional amount, if any, you want withheld from each paycheck (Line 6 on Federal Withholding form).

I need to change the amount of taxes taken out of my pay. How do I do that?

Fill out a new W-4 form (Employee's Withholding Exemption Certificate). Both forms (federal and state) can be found by clicking the web address located below. Once you complete your changes for withholding, send the forms to the Bureau of Accounting and Payroll Services, Central Payroll Division, 401 E. Fayette Street, 8th Floor, Baltimore Md 21202.

Can I get a duplicate W-2?

Yes. Visit Central Payroll (8th Floor, 401 E. Fayette Street) and submit a request; W-2s from 1991 through last year are available for a $5 service fee. If you are unable to visit Central Payroll, mail a letter to the Bureau of Accounting and Payroll Services, Central Payroll Division, 401 E. Fayette Street, 8th Floor, Baltimore Md 21202 with a $5 money order payable to the Director of Finance. Please include your Social Security number, the year for which you need the W-2, the agency in which you worked, a current mailing address, your signature, and a daytime phone number.

How long should I keep my W-2 forms

It is recommended that you keep them forever, also. W-2 forms can be seen as even more valuable than a pay stub as they report a whole year’s worth of earnings. In addition, the Social Security Administration may need your W-2 forms if there is a dispute about your records.

I've been to ERS and will retire soon. Is there anything that Central Payroll needs me to do?

If you will receive a City pension, there are two very important things to do. The first is to sign up for direct deposit of your pension, even if you already use direct deposit for your active pay. Follow the directions for the direct deposit above, noting ERS or FPR as the department code. (The Retirement System can help you with this.) We strongly recommend direct deposit for retirees because their checks are all mailed. Direct deposit is more reliable than mail delivery and is available in all 50 states. The second thing is to assess your voluntary deductions. All existing deductions will stop. You must sign up again for the ones you want to keep. The phone numbers to call are on the back of your stub. (If you are in a State retirement system, see your agency coordinator for guidance.)

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