15.1. Basic Concepts

Payroll is a financial record of wages, net pay, paid vacations, and deductions for an employee. Basically, anything that relates to giving money or benefits to an employee. Payroll is one of the more complex tasks in accounting, because there are many different accounts, people, and agencies involved in paying salaries.

Payroll is typically accounted for as an expense. Sometimes accountants store some payroll expenses in a short term liability account. This is useful for things such as payroll taxes, which may be paid at a different time than the employee. The employee might get paid biweekly, while taxes are paid quarterly. This chapter presents a methodology which expenses payroll immediately for salaries, but stores taxes in liability accounts.


GnuCash does not have an integrated payroll system. While you can track payroll expenses in GnuCash, the calculation of taxes and deductions has to be done outside of GnuCash.