When tax time comes around, Americans are often required to become better acquainted with certain tax terms — even if they are not accountants. Thankfully, most of us leave the majority of the tax prep work to the tax experts. However, when it comes to the different ways in which your taxable income can be described, things can get confusing. For this reason, it's a good idea to get a better understanding of the difference between your gross income and adjusted gross income and how it impacts your personal financial planning.
Is gross income before or after taxes?
Annual gross income is the amount of money you earn in a fiscal year before taxes or any other deductions are applied. When thinking about money earned, this may include your income from your employer in addition to income generated from interest, dividends, rental income or contract work.
Your annual net income is the amount of money you earn in a fiscal year after certain tax deductions are made.
What is annual gross income?
For an individual, annual gross income equals the amount of money that you earned in a year before taxes. If you're a business, your annual gross income would be your company's revenue, less any business expenses.
Because it's your gross income that reflects how much money you made during the year, it becomes an important figure in determining whether you will be required to file a tax return. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), if you're a U.S. citizen, whether or not you must file a federal income tax return depends on your annual gross income, your filing status, your age, and whether you are a dependent.1 For additional details on who is required to file a tax return, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov.
How to calculate annual gross income?
You can approximate your annual gross income using the following calculations.
- To convert your hourly income to annual income, multiply your hourly rate by 2,000
- To convert your weekly income to annual income, multiply by 50
To see how this works, let's consider an example.
If Tom earns $30 an hour at his job, what would his annual gross income be? Using the chart above as a guide, multiply $30/hour by 2,000 to get to $60,000 as an approximation.
To calculate specifically, at $30/hour, assuming Tom is full time (40 hours a week), he will earn $1,200 week. Assuming he works 51 of the 52 weeks per year, that equals $61,200.
What is adjusted gross income?
Your adjusted gross income (AGI) is equal to your gross income minus any eligible adjustments that you may qualify for. These adjustments to your gross income are specific expenses the IRS allows you to take that reduce your gross income to arrive at your AGI. Some of these adjustments to income include contributions to your traditional IRA, student loan interest and alimony payments.2 If you're doing your own taxes, you can determine your AGI with an online calculator from a source you trust or there are DIY tax programs that can also help you to determine this figure and guide you through preparing and filing both your federal and state tax returns.
Your AGI is an important calculation not only because it influences your tax bracket, but it may determine your eligibility to claim additional deductions and credits that may be available to you when you file your tax returns. Moreover, there are some states that may use your AGI as a base for calculating your state taxable income.
Getting help from a financial professional
As you consider your gross income vs your adjusted gross income, it's important to fully understand the two in context of your personal budget and greater financial goals. It may be helpful to enlist the services of a financial professional to help guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have about financial planning.
For more information on credits and deductions for taxpayers, visit the IRS Website at www.irs.gov.
Disclaimer: This article is meant to be an overview of the difference between the terms "annual gross income" and "adjusted gross income," and is not meant to present or imply any tax advice or guidance. For specific information on taxes, consult with a Certified Public Accountant or other qualified tax professional.