Mark Ashton, a partner in our Exton (Chester County), Pennsylvania office and former editor of our Pennsylvania Family Law Blog wrote an interesting post entitled "Elements of Expense: How Employers Help to Make Your Life Expensive & Your Lawyer Bewildered".
In his post, Mark ruminates on the difficulty in deciphering the modern pay stub. Mark notes that over the years we have evolved from a time and place where compensation consisted of salary and a bonus to one where a paystub reads like the Dresden Codex (an anthology of Mayan astronomical tables). In fact, the piece emanated from him having just devoted more than half an hour to reading and interpreting two paystubs that included salary, commission, vacation time, etc. as well as more than $100,000 of payments under the titles: ECC Disc Incentive; Long Term Cash Vest; RS Unit Vesting; and RSS Vesting.
Of course, once a you get past the alphabet soup of categories of income and withholdings, next you have to figure out what to do with them. For instance, you have to make a decision as to whether this is really income, an asset or both. This often comes into play with regard to bonuses and the exercise of deferred compensation. Is it recurring or non-recurring? Is it an anomalous, one time payment? Does this reflect an undisclosed change in how and/or the amount of someones compensation. What year should it be attached to, e.g. a bonus paid in 2012 for 2011 (do you just look at income received in the calendar year or do you add the salary received in a calendar year to the bonus for that year paid in the first quarter of the next year?)