ORDINARY INCOME: Definition & Examples

ordinary income

You may have known ordinary income before now as simple money earned from working, but there is a lot more to ordinary income than just money earned through employment. Hence, you will learn about the dividends that are taxed or not taxed as ordinary income; you will learn about the various ordinary income tax rates in different states and different categories in 2023, and you will also learn about the differences between capital gain vs ordinary income all in this article.

Ordinary Income

Ordinary income, in its broadest sense, is money gained via employment. Hourly pay, salaries, tips, commissions, bond interest, business income, some rents and royalties, short-term capital gains held for less than a year, and nonqualified dividends fall under this category.

It excludes everything that falls under the category of long-term capital gain. This typically relates to the proceeds from the sale of a property. Any sort of income that is taxable at regular rates and received by a person or entity is referred to as “ordinary income.” In addition to wages and salaries, it includes short-term capital gains, unqualified dividends, tips, bonuses, commissions, rents, royalties, and interest income.

Understanding Ordinary Income

Personal income and company revenue are the two main types of ordinary income. Any type of cash inflow that is subject to the standard marginal income tax rates as specified by the Internal Revenue Service is referred to as “personal ordinary income” (IRS). On the other hand, for businesses, the word refers to any form of income produced via routine. Everyday business operations—with the exception of income derived from the sale of long-term capital assets, such as real estate or machinery. Qualified dividends and long-term capital gains are taxed differently and are not regarded as regular income.

In part, ordinary income differs from other types of income due to how it is taxed. Long-term capital gain differs from ordinary income, not just in what it is but also in how it is taxed. Long-term capital gains are taxed at what is frequently referred to as a favorable or preferential rate. This can range from 0% to 20%. The government charges lower, benevolent rates on long-term capital gains to encourage people to make long-term investments. The majority of revenue produced is considered regular income. This is because, since capital gain is defined as money made through the sale of a property. The majority of your money will come from salary and earnings, not from the income you earn unless you purchase a property and then sell it later.

Ordinary Income Tax Rate

For the 2022 and 2023 ordinary income tax years, there are seven tax rate brackets for the majority of regular income: 10%, 12%, 22.5%, 24.5%, 32.5%, 35.5%, and 37.5%. Depending on your taxable income and filing status—single, married filing jointly, or qualifying widow(er), married filing separately, or head of household—you will be taxed at a certain rate. Generally speaking, your tax rate increases as your pay does.

In January, the IRS began taking taxpayers’ returns for the current tax year. The majority of Americans have until April 18 to file, although they can ask for an extension of six months until October 17. The new tax brackets for the 2023 tax year, for taxes you’ll file in April 2023, or October 2023 if you file an extension, were announced by the IRS on November 10. For the 2023 tax year, there are seven tax brackets for the majority of regular income: 10%, 12%, 22.5%, 24.5%, 32.5%, 35.5%, and 37.5%.

Capital Gain vs. Ordinary Income

Are you wondering how capital gains and ordinary income taxes differ? It’s not just you: Millions of people wonder the same thing every year. After all, the distinction between capital gains and ordinary income tax may not always be clear. But, it can significantly affect how much tax you owe each year. Here, we examine the differences between these taxes and how they could affect your finances.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the federal government have introduced capital gains taxes as a beneficial tax treatment. The main justifications for doing this are to encourage investors to purchase and hold capital assets (such as stocks and real estate). While ordinary income taxes are levied on revenues from income, interest, and short-term capital gains.

Imagine income tax as a federally imposed fee that is imposed on any money that you have earned through your job and personal effort. This is a helpful way to think about capital gains vs. income tax. Meanwhile, capital gains taxes are levied on earnings made as a profit from the purchase of an asset. This includes a vacation house or stock, and the subsequent sale of the same for a profit.

Comparing Capital Gain vs. Ordinary Income

Based on long-term and short-term capital gains, capital gains taxes are further divided into two categories. After owning an asset for at least a year, you must sell it to realize long-term capital gains, which are taxed at a lower rate. Instead, short-term capital gains are subject to the higher regular ordinary income tax rate. Given the possible tax benefits that could accrue over time. This seems reasonable because investors would be motivated to purchase and keep long-term investments. However, paying short-term capital gains taxes is also frequent. If you’re trading stocks, remodeling, flipping houses, or working on other quick-turn ventures.

Lastly, wages and income, interest income, and short-term capital gains are all subject to ordinary income taxes. Contrarily, capital gains taxes are a beneficial tax treatment that reduces taxes on earnings gained through investment activities. These gains are intended to entice investors to purchase and hold capital assets. For single taxpayers, the capital gains tax rate is 0% of your annual income if it is under $80,000, 15% between $80,000 and $445,450, and 20% after that. For married couples filing jointly, the rate is 20% of their annual income that exceeds $496,600.

Are Dividends Taxed as Ordinary Income?

Dividends are property distributions that a company may provide you if you hold shares in them. Most dividends are given by corporations in cash. They may, however, also pay them in the form of another corporation’s stock or any other asset. You may also get distributions if you own a partnership, an estate, a trust, an S company, or an organization that is subject to corporate tax.

If a corporation pays a shareholder’s debt, provides services to the shareholder, or permits the shareholder to use the firm’s property without adequately compensating the corporation. This shareholder may in turn be deemed to have received a dividend. The provision of services by a shareholder to a corporation could also be construed as the corporation paying the shareholder service provider more than it would pay a third party for the same services. In this event, the shareholder is entitled to a dividend. A shareholder may also get distributions from the distributing company. These distributions can include more shares or stock options, which may or may not be classified as dividends. 

They are compensated for the company’s earnings and profits. Dividends can be categorized as ordinary income depending on how they are taxed. Ordinary dividends are taxed as ordinary income, but qualified dividends that satisfy specific criteria are subject to capital gains tax at a lower rate. This is because a dividend that doesn’t meet IRS criteria to be eligible for a lower tax rate is referred to as a nonqualified dividend. The IRS taxes these payouts as regular income. They are also known as ordinary dividends. Nonqualified dividends include: Certain overseas corporations may or may not pay qualified dividends.

Ordinary Income Tax Rate in 2023

The President’s budget proposal would decrease the threshold at which the top rate takes effect to boost the top individual rate. For instance, the top rate of 37 percent in 2023 applies once taxable income exceeds $539,900 for single filers and $647,850 for married couples filing jointly. The income tax bands for 2023 are a little wider than they were for 2021. This is despite the fact that tax rates remained the same. Inflation throughout the 12-month period from September 2020 to August 2021, which is used to calculate the adjustments, is to blame for the discrepancy.

This is because the forecast tax penalty rate for overpayments in 2023 is less than 5% (4 percent in the case of a corporation). There is a 2.5 percent fee for the portion of a corporate overpayment that exceeds $10,000. 5% to 7 percent for underpayments by large corporations.

Knowing Ordinary Income in 2023

Financial experts caution that you might get a smaller tax return this year. This is especially for people who are used to getting one from the IRS around this time each year. In 2023, millions of Americans might get smaller refunds or perhaps end up paying the IRS money. You will shortly receive interest in the amount of 5%, but it is taxed. According to the IRS, if you’re still waiting for a return, interest will typically be collected and will increase to 5%. If the organization takes more than 45 days to submit your return beyond the filing date, interest will be added.

Additionally, there are seven federal tax brackets for the 2023 tax year. This ranges from 10 percent, 12 percent, 22 percent, 24 percent, 32 percent, 35 percent, and 37 percent. Your filing status and taxable income in 2023 determine your tax bracket. Single filers’ tax rates in 2023, if the following conditions are met:

  • Over $539,900
  • Sum of $162,718 + 37% of the excess over $539,900

How is ordinary income calculated?

Regular pay from an employer might come in the form of commissions, bonuses, hourly wages, or annual salaries. Your self-employment earnings, if you work for yourself, would be your regular income. Depending on the kind of income that people and businesses get, the IRS taxes revenue in different ways.

What is ordinary income vs net income?

Net income is operating income less any other non-operating expenses, such as interest and taxes, whereas operating income is revenue less any operating expenses. Selling, general & administrative (SG&A), as well as depreciation and amortization, are expenses that are included in operating income.

Is rent an ordinary income?

Ordinary income is often taxed on rental income from properties unless a taxpayer is operating a business for taxes reasons. A person is typically recognized as an investor if they own one or more properties, whether alone or with others. This also holds true for other types of organizations, such as trusts or companies.

What is the opposite of ordinary income?

Capital gains or capital income would be the polar opposite of ordinary income. An individual or business can generate normal income through work or commercial operations. An asset’s sale or exchange results in capital profits.

Is property ordinary income?

Any profit from the sale or exchange of property that is neither a capital asset nor a piece of property listed in section 1231 is included in “ordinary income” for the purposes of this subtitle (b).

Is dividend ordinary income?

Dividends can be categorized as qualified or ordinary. Ordinary dividends are taxed as ordinary income, but qualified dividends that satisfy specific criteria are subject to capital gains tax at a lower rate.

What is capital gains vs ordinary income?

Ordinary income tax rates are frequently higher than long-term capital gains tax rates. Depending on the investor’s overall taxable income, capital gains are taxed at rates of 0%, 15%, and 20%. In contrast, the maximum regular tax rate for 2023 is projected to be 37%. The rates of capital gains taxes are very favorable.


Your ordinary income is taxed at the same rate as your dividends in 2023, even though some of these taxes are deductible, and it is imperative that you understand how it functions, including the rate at which dividends are included in your ordinary income, as well as the key difference between a capital gain and your ordinary income.


How do you calculate ordinary income?

For individuals, ordinary income usually consists of the pretax salaries and wages they have earned. In a corporate setting, ordinary income comes from regular day-to-day business operations, excluding income gained from selling capital assets

What is the difference between taxable income and ordinary income?

Taxable income is calculated as ordinary income, minus all allowable deductions, exemptions, and credits.

Is ordinary income the same as earned income?

Ordinary income is also called “earned income.” As the name implies, earned (or ordinary) income is any money earned from your business activities or employment. It can come in the form of a salary, commissions, tips, or bonuses gained by working for someone else

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