What Is Business Gross Income and How Is It Calculated?

Gross Income for a Business
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Gross income of a business is the total income from all sources before subtracting adjustments, exemptions, or deductions allowed by law. The term "gross" in a financial sense means an initial amount before any deductions, expenses, or withholdings. In accounting and financial terms, you always go from gross to net.

Gross business income is an amount calculated on a business tax return as the total business sales less cost of goods sold (COGS). It appears on the income statement (profit and loss statement) of a business as a starting figure, then it is reduced by returns/allowances and other deductions to get net income or net earnings.

Gross income for a business that runs on the cash method is all items of income that the business constructively received during the tax year.

If a business receives property and services, those count as gross income.

What Gross Business Income Is Not

Employee Gross Pay

Gross pay for an individual is the amount on that person's paycheck before any withholding or deductions. Personal gross income from employment is calculated for hourly workers by multiplying the hours worked by the hourly rate (including overtime). For salaried workers, it's calculated by dividing the annual income by the number of pay periods. 

Adjusted Gross Income (AGI)

AGI is a calculation on a personal tax return. It's gross income minus adjustment. These adjustments include such items as educator expenses, student loan interest, alimony payments or contributions to a retirement account. Adjusted gross income is calculated on Form 1040.

Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) for an Individual

This figure is used to determine whether you can contribute to an IRA or qualify for certain other benefits, including education tax benefits and some income tax credits. For many people, MAGI is identical or very close to adjusted gross income. It doesn't include foreign income, nontaxable Social Security benefits, tax-exempt interest, or Supplemental Security Income. You won't see MAGi on your tax return.

Gross Revenue or Sales of Your Business

Gross revenue or gross sales is the amount of money the business brings in through sales. Gross revenue is the most comprehensive income, and it is the first item in the calculation of gross income. Gross revenue may be reduced by discounts and returns.

Gross Profit

Gross profit is gross revenue or sales minus the cost of producing that revenue. Gross profit includes a calculation for the cost of goods sold, for businesses that sell products. Gross income includes income from other sources than sales.

Net Income

Sometimes called profits or earnings, net income is calculated by subtracting all deductions, tax credits, and cost of goods sold from the gross income number.

Gross Income for Individuals

For an individual taxpayer, gross income includes all income you receive as money, goods, property, and services that is not exempt from tax. It includes income you receive from outside the U.S, and it includes part of Social Security benefits.

Gross income includes wages, dividends, capital gains, business income, and retirement distributions.

Gross Income in Business Financial Analysis 

Gross income is usually the result of the operations of a business. The "operations" are the day-to-day activities of what the business sells. Since you want to see the profit from your business operations, keep gross income free of non-operations income like investment income.

Your business gross income is used in several calculations to determine the profitability and viability of your business. 

Gross Profit Margin

One key financial ratio is gross profit margin, or the percentage of revenue /sales remaining after subtracting cost of goods sold. The calculation is gross profit (gross income) divided by total sales. This calculation results in a percentage—the higher the percentage the better.

For example, if gross profit (income) is $400,000 and sales are $1,000,000, the margin is 40%.That means your business sold $1 million in products and its cost of sales was $600,000.

Calculating Gross Income for Business Income Taxes

A calculation of gross income appears on the tax forms for all business types. We'll use Schedule C for small businesses as an example. 

In Part 1 of Schedule C: 

  1. Gross receipts or sales of the business is entered.
  2. Returns and allowances are deducted.
  3. Cost of goods sold (COGS) is entered. COGS is calculated on a separate schedule and the total is entered here. It is only applicable for businesses that sell products.
  4. Gross receipts minus returns and allowances and cost of goods sold equals gross profit.
  5. Income from other sources is entered. This might be income from dividends, bad debts recovered, tax credits, refunds, prizes and awards related to business, and other kinds of miscellaneous income tax credits.

So, gross receipts minus COGS equals gross profit. Then other income is added to get to what the IRS calls "total income." 

"Other Income" enters the calculation of gross income after COGS and the calculation of gross profit. Other income includes interest income and income from the recovery of bad debts.

Article Sources

  1. Legal Information Institute. "Gross Income." Accessed Feb. 12, 2020.

  2. IRS. "Tax Guide for Small Business," Page 17. Accessed Feb. 12, 2020.

  3. IRS. "Form 1040 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return." Accessed Feb. 12, 2020.

  4. HealthCare.gov. " What to Include as Income." Accessed Feb. 12, 2020.

  5. HelthCare.gov. "Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI)." Accessed Feb. 12, 2020.

  6. IRS. "About Schedule C (Form 1040), Profit or Loss from Business (Sole Proprietorship)." Accessed Feb. 12, 2020.

  7. IRS. "Gross Income." Accessed Feb. 12, 2020.

  8. IRS. "Instructions for Schedule C," Page C-6. Accessed Feb. 12, 2020.