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Understanding Gross Pay vs. Net Pay: Everything US Employees Need To Know

Samantha Wilson

Jan 20, 2023
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As an employee in the United States, it's important to know the difference between gross pay and net pay. In this blog, we'll explore the wage law in the US, what exactly gross and net pay mean, and how they affect employees in different ways.

Introduction to Gross Pay and Net Pay

Gross pay is the total amount of money that an employee has earned in a given pay period. This includes all forms of compensation, such as hourly wages, salary, commissions, and bonuses. Gross pay is typically calculated before any deductions are taken out of an employee's paycheck.

Net pay is the amount of money that an employee actually receives after all deductions have been made from their gross pay. These deductions can include things like taxes, retirement contributions, health insurance premiums, and other voluntary or mandatory deductions. Net pay is what an employee will ultimately take home with them after everything has been deducted from their paycheck.

What is Gross Pay?

To understand your pay, it’s important to first understand the difference between gross pay and net pay. Gross pay is the total amount of money you earn before taxes and other deductions are taken out. Your net pay is your take-home pay—the amount of money you actually receive in your paycheck after all taxes and deductions have been withheld.

So, what exactly is included in gross pay? For most employees, it includes regular hourly wages or salary, overtime pay, tips, commissions, and bonuses. It does not include any deductions, such as taxes or insurance premiums.

Let’s say you earn a salary of $50,000 per year. In one year, you also earn $5,000 in commissions and $500 in bonuses.

Your gross annual pay would be $55,500 ($50,000 + $5,000 + $500).

What is Net Pay?

Net pay is the amount of money that an employee takes home after all deductions have been made from their gross pay. Deductions can include taxes, insurance, retirement contributions, and other withholdings. The net pay calculation varies from person to person based on their individual tax situation.

A common misconception is that gross pay and net pay are the same things. However, they are two very different measures. Gross pay is the total amount of money that an employee earns before any deductions are made. Net pay, on the other hand, is the amount of money that an employee takes home after all deductions have been made.

The main difference between gross pay and net pay is that gross pay includes all of an employee's earnings before taxes and other deductions are taken out, while net pay is the amount of money an employee actually receives after all deductions have been made.

Gross pay can be calculated by adding up all of an employee's hourly wages, salary, commissions, bonuses, and other forms of compensation. Once all of these amounts have been added up, any deductions must be taken out from the total to calculate the net pay.

Deductions can include federal and state income taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, insurance premiums, retirement plan contributions, and other withholdings. The specific deductions that are taken out of an employee's paycheck depend on their individual tax situation.

Now let’s say that your gross pay is $55,500 and your company withholds $4,500 for federal income taxes, $1,200 for state taxes, $800 for Social Security taxes, and $600 for Medicare taxes. You also have health insurance premiums deducted from your paycheck totaling $200 per month ($2,400 per year).

Your net annual pay would be $45,500 ($55,500 - $4,500 - $1,200 - $800 - $600 - $2,400).

Calculating Gross and Net Pay

Gross pay is your total before-tax earnings from your employer for a set period of time, usually one week or one month. It's what you see on your paycheck stub before any deductions are taken out.

Net pay is what's left of your gross pay after all taxes and other deductions have been taken out. It's the amount of money that gets deposited into your bank account or that you receive in cash when you're paid.

To calculate your gross pay, start with your regular hourly rate or salary. If you work overtime, be sure to include those hours and earnings as well. Then, add up any other forms of income, such as tips, commissions, or bonuses. This is your gross pay for the period.

To calculate net pay, start with your gross pay and subtract any taxes you owe, such as federal income tax, state income tax, Social Security tax, and Medicare tax. You may also have other deductions taken out of your paycheck, such as for health insurance or retirement savings. These all contribute to lowering your net pay.

Pros and Cons of Gross vs. Net Pay

As an employee in the United States, it's important to understand the difference between gross pay and net pay. Your gross pay is the amount of money you earn before taxes and other deductions are taken out, while your net pay is the amount of money you take home after taxes and deductions.

There are pros and cons to both gross and net pay. On the one hand, gross pay includes your full salary before any deductions are made. This means that you may have more money to work with each month, which can be helpful if you're trying to save up or make a large purchase. On the other hand, taxes and deductions can take a significant chunk out of your paycheck, leaving you with less disposable income than you may have anticipated.

Ultimately, it's up to you to decide whether you prefer gross or net pay. Some people prefer the stability of knowing exactly how much money they'll have each month, while others like having a larger sum of money to work with upfront. There's no right or wrong answer - it's all about what works best for you!

salary term in the usa

Understanding the difference between gross pay and net pay can help you budget your finances more efficiently. You now know that your gross salary is what you earn before taxes, while your net salary is what you take home after deductions. It's important to understand both of these numbers in order to accurately manage your money, so be sure to keep them in mind when making financial decisions. With this knowledge, you can ensure that you are getting the most out of every paycheck.

Now that you understand the wage law and gross pay vs net pay, it’s time to grab a job that pays you better. Use Epicareer to easily discover jobs relevant to your skills & experiences. Try it now!

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