The official Pennsylvania Automated Child Support Enforcement System website contains a child support calculator program anyone may use, free of charge, to estimate the amount of child support they may have to pay or receive. The PACSES website uses the same computer program domestic relations officers use when they attempt to settle cases between parents in child support conferences throughout Pennsylvania.
Operating the child support calculator requires a parent to determine the net income of each parent after deducting taxes, union dues and mandatory retirement contributions. Believe it or not, net income under the Pennsylvania support law is not the same as take-home pay or taxable income. This site contains a page to help parents understand some of the differences, but an accurate calculation of Pennsylvania child support requires the knowledge of an experienced Pennsylvania child support attorney like those at Pollock Begg.
Where is the official Pennsylvania child support calculator?
See the official Pennsylvania child support calculator here. Please note, Pennsylvania updates its child support guidelines every four years.
What are the limitations of the PACSES child support calculator?
1. The PACSES child support calculator estimates each parent’s net monthly income by deducting their federal, state and local income taxes, Federal Insurance Contribution Act taxes, union dues and mandatory retirement contributions in accordance with Pennsylvania’s child support law. The calculator does not consider itemized deductions when calculating federal income taxes; a standard deduction is used instead. Note, itemized deductions generally reduce a parent’s tax liability, so a parent who has itemized deductions may have greater net income than this program estimates.
2. The PACSES child support calculator does not consider earning capacity, which may be applicable when a parent is unemployed or underemployed.
3. The PACSES child support calculator assumes all income is earned from employment, which is subject to 7.65 percent FICA (Social Security and Medicare) taxes. There is no adjustment for income generated by self-employment (Schedule C), which would be subject to 15.3 percent self-employment taxes, or rental income, interest and dividends, capital gains, corporate distributions or other types of income not subject to FICA taxes. All these types of income are treated the same as earned income. The PACSES program overestimates the income for self-employed parents and underestimates the net income for parents who have other types of income.
4. When you use the PACSES child support calculator, start with the dollar amount shown in box 16 (state wages) from your W-2 form instead of box 1 (wages, etc.). Box 1 is your federal taxable income, which is equal to gross income minus pretax deductions. Most of the pretax deductions are not allowable for child support purposes.
5. Determining the net income of each parent can be a complex task. For the most accurate calculation, contact a Pittsburgh child support lawyer. The statutory definition of income for child support purposes is much different than the definition of taxable income, and there are many legal issues that affect child support income. The PACSES child support calculator is only an estimator and you may need experienced legal counsel to determine the correct amount of child support.
For a calculation of what you should be receiving or paying under the new guidelines, call our offices today.