How to Do a Payroll Register

by Chuck Brown; Updated September 26, 2017

Payroll registers are indispensable for keeping accurate employee/employer tax paying records. Whether you hire an accountant for the task or undertake it yourself, payroll registers must get done and done correctly. Payroll registers create a solid record of how much was paid and when it was paid. Since the IRS Form 941 is filled out and mailed quarterly for most small businesses, payroll registers can make the 941 filings much quicker because all the longer calculations have already been completed and recorded. Fill out the payroll register sequentially and accurately.

Items you will need

  • Payroll book/register
  • Federal tax booklet
  • State tax booklet
  • Calculator
  • Pencil (not a pen)
Step 1

Buy a payroll book/register at an office supplies store. Go to the courthouse and pick up the federal and state tax table booklets used to figure individual tax rates. Use the employee information he furnished to the company when hired to fill out the first part of the payroll book or register. Copy the employee information from the employee information folder into the book.

Step 2

Enter the employee’s full legal name used on their annual tax filings. Record residency in the appropriate block. The information blocks are labeled at the top of each column. Enter R for resident or NR for non-resident of the state where the income is paid.

Step 3

Write down the abbreviation indicating marital status next. Write S for single or M for married in the appropriate block. In the next block enter the number of dependents they wish to claim for tax purposes.

Step 4

Mark a line through any of the seven days listed at the top of the page that your business is closed. Notice that the days labeled in boxes across the top of the page start with Sunday, not Monday, and go through Saturday.

Step 5

Record the total number of hours each employee works for each day of the week. Record the days they ask to leave early or come in late. Write it down on a sticky note when you are told and put it in your payroll book. Adjust the total hours worked on that day when you record employee hours worked for the day.

Step 6

Total the number of hours worked for the week and write it in the Total Hours block. Do the same for overtime hours worked. Multiply the total number of hours worked times the pay rate per hour. Do the same for overtime worked.

Step 7

Use the appropriate formulas, federal income tax tables and state income tax tables to calculate payroll deductions. Deduct Social Security, Medicare, U.S. withholding, and state withholding amounts plus any other amounts withheld in the state you have your business. Total the deductions and subtract them from the total pay earned. Write the employee a company check for the amount earned after taxes and record that amount in your payroll book.


  • Record termination dates and hiring dates in your payroll register to maintain accurate work histories for your company.


  • Double-check your figures; they must be exact.

About the Author

Chuck Brown is a freelance writer and former teacher and athletic coach. He has held professional stints as a business owner, personal fitness trainer, curriculum designer, website designer, market trader and real estate investor. Brown holds a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in Christian counseling.

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