WHAT IS GROSS WAGES: Definition, Examples & How to Calculate It

What Is Gross Wages
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Gross wages are the starting point for all employee payments in payroll. Because gross wages affect taxes and deductions, it’s critical to understand how they work in respect to hourly or annual income. This article discusses gross wages, how to calculate them using a calculator, an example, and a clear comparison of gross pay vs. net pay. Let’s get started!

What Is the Definition of Gross Wage?

Gross wages are the total amount earned by an employee before taxes and other deductions are deducted from the paycheck. The amount earned is determined on the employer’s salary rate and employment status. Your annual salary is your gross wage if you are a salaried employee. A gross wage can be calculated for an hourly employee by multiplying the number of hours worked by the hourly rate.

Your gross wages can be found on your pay stub. It should be the highest possible number. You can also see the taxes and deductions deducted from your paycheck to determine the difference between your gross and take-home earnings.

Why are Gross Wages Important?

Gross wages are crucial because they serve as the foundation for some payroll computations, such as taxes and employee take-home pay. Failure to pay an employee’s wages when they are due may result in costly wage claims, lawsuits, or tax fines.

What is Included in Gross Wages?

Gross wages may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Regular pay by the hour, salary, or piece
  • Overtime pay
  • Bonuses and incentives
  • Commissions
  • Reported tips
  • Retroactive pay increases
  • Stock options
  • Sick pay, vacation pay, jury duty money, bereavement pay, or other paid time off (PTO)
  • Employees are entitled to fringe perks as part of their salary.

Gross Wages vs. Taxable Wages

Taxable wages are an employee’s gross wages less any pretax benefits provided by an employer in terms of payroll processing. Employees, for example, contribute to an employer’s cafeteria plan for health benefits or a 401(k) retirement savings plan on a pretax basis. These pretax payments to qualifying benefit plans are deducted from total gross wages and are not considered wages for federal income tax purposes. The remainder, referred to as taxable wages, is subject to federal taxation.

Gross Wages vs. Wages Included on Form W-2

Wage and Tax Statement, Form W-2, indicates an employee’s annual taxable wages rather than gross wages. As a result, the earnings reflected on a Form W-2 are typically lower than the year-to-date total gross wages on the employee’s final pay statement.

Gross Pay vs. Net Pay

Gross pay and net pay both refer to your earnings from working hours. The fundamental distinction between gross and net compensation is when deductions are made. Federal, state, and municipal income taxes are all included in payroll deductions. Health insurance premiums, garnishments, and IRA contributions are examples of non-tax deductions.

The amount payable to you before taxes and other deductions is known as gross pay. It is not the amount of money you are paid. You must compute your net wages using gross wages. Net pay is what you take home after all deductions are made. It is the amount of money you are paid. I believe you now understand the distinction between gross and net compensation.

How to Calculate Gross Wages

Whether you are an hourly or salaried employee determines how you compute gross compensation. This knowledge is useful for small business managers in establishing what their staff should make. Employees can keep track of how much they should net from their gross income.

Here’s how to calculate gross wages if you’re an hourly or salaried employee:

How to Calculate Gross Wages for Hourly Employee

Calculating gross earnings as an hourly employee is as simple as multiplication. You may calculate your hourly wage by multiplying your hours worked by your hourly wage. Assume you work 20 hours per week part-time and earn $10 per hour:

  • Hours x Wage = Gross weekly pay
  • 20 x 10 = 200
  • In this case, your weekly gross pay would be $200.

You may also need to account for overtime compensation. Most overtime pay in the United States is computed as time and a half. Assume you worked an additional 4 hours as overtime in the preceding scenario.

  • Overtime hours x (Hourly wage x Time and a half) = Overtime pay
  • 4 x (10 x 1.5) = $60

Your overtime pay is $60. This can be added to your above-average gross compensation to calculate your total salary, including overtime.

  • Gross weekly pay + Overtime pay = Total gross pay
  • $200 + $60 = $260
  • Your total gross pay is $260.

Some jurisdictions or countries may have their own overtime computations. To get precise numbers, you’ll need to figure out what those computations are.

How to Calculate Gross Wages for Salaried Employee

If you are salaried, you must calculate your gross wages differently. Your starting point will be your annual pay. Divide your pay by 12 for each month of the year to get your gross wages per month. For example, if you earn $50,000 per year, you would divide that amount by 12 to determine your monthly gross wages.

  • Salary / 12 months = Monthly gross wage
  • $50,000 / 12 = $4,167
  • Your monthly gross wage is around $4,167.

Because salaried employees often do not receive overtime, you will most likely not need to perform this computation.

Calculating gross wages is straightforward. There are no complicated formulas, so you may determine this at any time.

How to Make Deductions

As a manager, you may be required to calculate your employees’ gross wages. Knowing this can aid in the calculation of taxes and other deductions. You must know your employees’ gross earnings in order to compute taxes and other deductions, which are calculated on gross pay.

#1. Determine pre-tax deductions

Your starting point should be pre-tax deductions. They are the deductions made from gross pay prior to withholding taxes. These deductions can be for a set sum. For instance, $25 can be deducted from each paycheck. In some situations, they may be calculated as a percentage of the gross compensation.

#2. Collect employee taxes

The next stage is to withhold taxes from employees. Your employees’ gross salaries minus pre-tax deductions should be taxed as a percentage or a fixed sum. It is critical to know that you can calculate employer taxes using your employees’ gross salaries.

#3. Withhold after-tax deductions

Other deductions must be withheld after taxes. They can be deducted from gross pay after all other deductions are performed. They may be a percentage fixed sum, similar to pre-tax deductions.

Using Gross Pay for Payroll

As a manager, you may also be responsible for calculating gross pay in payroll. Your computation, like deductions, should begin with gross pay. Overtime pay must be calculated for hourly and salaried employees, as well as federal, state, and FICA taxes withheld. You must also begin with gross salary for Social Security and Medicare taxes.

The taxable year will have an impact on your employee’s taxable income. For paychecks issued earlier in the year for work completed at the end of the year, you must identify the taxable year.

How do Employers Use Gross Wages for Payroll Processing?

The first stage in processing payroll is calculating an employee’s gross wages. Employers generally go as follows:

  • Deduct pretax contributions for eligible benefit plans
  • Calculate and withhold federal income tax and state and local income tax, if applicable
  • Calculate employer and employee FICA taxes (Social Security and Medicare)
  • Deduct the employee portion of FICA tax
  • Calculate the employer’s portion of federal and state unemployment tax*
  • Deduct after-tax, voluntary deductions and wage garnishments, if applicable
  • Pay employees their remaining net pay by live paycheck, direct deposit or paycard
  • Deposit the employee and employer portions of the taxes with government agencies

The majority of unemployment tax is paid by the employer, although there are other taxes that demand employee contributions, such as state disability or paid family and medical leave tax. Additional deductions may be applicable based on state and municipal laws.

How Gross Wages and Overtime Work

Calculating gross compensation for hourly employees who work overtime hours requires special considerations. Hourly workers are often not excluded from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA). This means you must pay them at least time and a half for any hours done in excess of 40 in a workweek.

For instance, suppose an employee receives $20 per hour and works 45 hours per week. They’ve put in five extra hours. As a result, you must pay overtime for those hours. The employee’s time-and-a-half wage would be $20 multiplied by 1.5 to equal $30.

Overtime rules differ by state. Some states, for example, consider any amount of hours worked in one weekday that exceeds eight to be overtime. According to this definition, an employee who worked 40 hours in a workweek but nine of those hours were on a single workday would be eligible for overtime pay. The employee would receive one hour of overtime pay and 39 hours of ordinary pay.

Consult your local and state legislation to determine your overtime requirements, and get competent legal counsel if you have any remaining concerns. When it comes to employee pay standards, it’s best to be cautious than sorry.

How Do I Find My Gross Pay?

The usual gross salary computation is as follows:

  • Gross Pay = Annual Salary Amount / Number of Pay Periods.
  • Gross Pay = Hours Worked in a Pay Period * Hourly Rate (+ Overtime Hours * Hourly Overtime Rate)

What Is the Difference Between Gross Pay and Gross Wages?

The amount payable to you before taxes and other deductions is known as gross pay. It is not the amount of money you are paid. You must compute your net wages using gross wages. Net pay is what you take home after all deductions are made.

What Is the Difference Between W-2 Wages and Gross Wages?

the whole gross is the whole amount an employee earned in a year, whereas the amount stated on a W-2 is taxable income less non-taxable amounts such as employee health insurance and 401K.

Does Gross Wages Include Overtime?

Gross wages include the worker’s regular hourly or salaried salary as well as any overtime earned during the pay period.

What Is the Weekly Gross Pay?

The definition of gross compensation stays the same whether a company pays weekly, biweekly, or monthly.

Is My Income My Gross Pay?

In layman’s terms, gross income is a person’s entire earnings before taxes or other deductions. It encompasses all sources of revenue, including money, property, and the value of services obtained. Before taxes are determined, gross income is lowered through adjustments and deductions.


Understanding gross wages, whether you use payroll software or perform the calculations yourself, helps you pay your employees correctly, submit payroll taxes correctly, and stay on the right side of labor and tax regulations.

You must also include your gross payroll and total payroll expenditures in your cost of goods sold and overhead costs. The more you understand about your company’s gross salaries and payroll expenditures, as well as shifting trends in those costs, the more effectively you can make sensible business decisions and financial strategies.


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