What Is Gross Income and How Is It Calculated?

Key Takeaways

Understanding your finances starts with grasping some basic concepts, and one of the foundational pieces of that puzzle is knowing what gross income is.

Whether you’re filling out a loan application, doing your taxes, or planning a budget, your gross income plays a crucial role. We’ll demystify gross income, explain how it’s calculated, and answer some common questions related to it.

Understanding gross income

Gross income is the total amount you earn in a given period before any deductions or taxes are taken out. It includes wages, salaries, bonuses, and other income sources like rental income, dividends, and interest.

  • For individuals, it’s a starting point to determine taxable income after subtracting deductions and exemptions.
  • For couples filing jointly, gross income combines both partners’ earnings, bonuses, and any additional income sources before deductions or taxes, serving as the foundation for calculating their combined taxable income.
  • For businesses, gross income, often referred to as gross profit, is revenue minus the cost of goods sold (COGS).

How to calculate gross income

For individuals

Calculating your gross income is straightforward if you have a regular salary. It’s your annual salary before taxes. If you’re paid hourly, multiply your hourly rate by the number of hours you work in a year. Don’t forget to include any overtime, bonuses, and additional income sources.


  • Hourly Wage: If you make $25 an hour and work 40 hours a week, your weekly gross income is $1,000 ($25 x 40). Annually, assuming you work 52 weeks, your gross income would be $52,000 ($1,000 x 52).

For couples filing jointly

When couples file taxes together, add all earnings: salaries, hourly wages (annually calculated), bonuses, and other incomes like dividends.


  • Partner A: $60,000 annual salary.
  • Partner B: $52,000 from a $25/hour wage at 40 hours/week.
  • Additional Income: Increased to $10,000 from dividends and rental.
  • Total Combined Gross Income: $122,000


For businesses

Businesses calculate gross income differently. It’s the revenue from all sources minus the COGS. COGS includes direct costs related to producing the goods or services sold by the company.


  • Revenue: $500,000
  • COGS: $300,000
  • Gross Income: $200,000 ($500,000 – $300,000)

    Common questions about gross income

    What’s the difference between gross income and net income?

    The primary difference is that net income is what remains after all deductions, including taxes, benefits, and other payroll deductions, are subtracted from your gross income. For businesses, net income also subtracts expenses like operating costs, interest, and taxes from gross income.

    Is overtime included in gross income?

    Yes, overtime pay is part of your gross income since it’s compensation for the work you’ve done.

    How does gross income affect taxes?

    For individuals, gross income is the starting point for determining how much of your income is taxable after deductions and exemptions. The higher your gross income, the higher your potential tax liability could be, depending on the deductions and credits you qualify for.

    Can gross income include non-employment income?

    Absolutely. Gross income can include other sources like rental property income, investment dividends, interest earned on savings accounts, and any other income received during the year.

    Tips for Managing Your Gross Income

    • Understand your pay stub: Regularly review your pay stub to understand how much of your gross income goes to taxes, retirement savings, and other deductions.
    • Plan for taxes: Knowing your gross income can help you estimate your tax liability and plan for potential refunds or payments.
    • Budget wisely: Use your gross income as a benchmark for creating a budget that covers your needs, wants, and savings goals.


    Gross income is a fundamental financial concept that affects everything from your tax bill to your eligibility for loans and benefits. By understanding how it’s calculated and what it includes, you can better manage your finances and plan for the future.

    Remember, while gross income gives you a snapshot of your earning potential, it’s the management of your net income that will truly shape your financial health. Whether you’re an individual looking to maximize your earnings or a business aiming to improve profitability, a clear understanding of gross income is essential.

    StellarFi (StellarFinance, Inc.) and its affiliates do not provide financial, tax, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal, or accounting advice. You should consult your own financial, tax, legal, and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. StellarFi receives a referral fee from the partners mentioned in this article.