Let's review payroll math:
Gross wages plus employer taxes = net take home and all payroll checks written
"and then enter the checks into the register using same subaccount for the child support check "
Which Register? The Bank?
"I enter payroll as a journal entry with child support as a subaccount of employee wages "
That is an error. The journal entry will be Debit Gross Wages, and Credit "Child Support Liability account."
When you write the check to pay the garnishment, on the Expenses tab, you list the Child Support Liability account.
Garnshiments NEVER hit the P&L. This is NOT the employer's garnishment or expense. It is a liability: you held back money from the employee's takehome check and need to prove you paid it out to the child support enforcement division.
It is Balance Sheet activity, not P&L.
This chart may help you.
On your books you will be posting the amount that is withheld from the employee's payroll as a credit to a liability. (Garnishments Payable or whatever you want to call it). When you issue the check in payment of the garnishment, you would post the debit to the same account. The balance should zero out after each payment.
Hope this helps.
You don't need to do that. Child support is deducted from the amount you already paid your employee -- which is already recorded on your books. In other words, child support is neither your liability nor your expense; the employee wage is.
Child Support is Never Employer Expense. It is diversion of takehome.
The Payroll Math is:
Gross Wages <== employer expense
Employer taxes <== employer expense
Everything else is deducted or withheld from Gross Wages
Gross Wages $1,000 Debit
Employer taxes $76.50 expenses (using only FICA for this example) Debit
Credit Payroll Liability for $76.50 for employer + the $76.50 for the employee FICA, + the employee income tax withholding amount, + child support deduction
Credit Bank for takehome
And later, the Check Expenses pay out the various Liabilities you held back. That is never expense, again.
And you don't use Liability if the PR service provider keeps all your funds up front = they impound the taxes up front.
Debit Gross Wages
Debit Employer tax share
Debit PR provider fee
Credit Banking for that total they kept
So how to you clear this account out at the end of the year. Does it go through the payroll expense account? Or is there a separate account that goes with it.