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Gross Vs. Net Income: Definitions & Differences

Updated: Mar. 08, 2022By: Amanda Reaume

Gross income measures how much total income a company brings in from the sale of its products and services minus the cost of producing those goods and services. In contrast, net income is the profit that the company makes after subtracting operational expenses and other costs from gross income.

Tax Form 1040 with magnifying glass. Tax concept

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What Is Gross Income?

Gross income (applied to companies) is the income that a company earns from the sale of their products and services after subtracting the direct costs associated with producing those goods from the gross revenues generated by them.

The formula for calculating gross income is:

Gross Income = Gross Revenue - Cost of Goods Sold

Gross income is also referred to as gross profit and is reported on a company’s income statement.

Takeaway: Gross income and net income are found on a company's income statement. An income statement is a financial document that can be read in concert with a company's other disclosure documents -- their balance sheet and cash flow statement.

What Is Net Income?

Net income is the amount of profit a company makes after taxes, operational expenses, wages, and all other expenses are deducted. It’s easy to calculate by simply taking gross income and subtracting all of a company’s other expenses.

Net income is useful for calculating a company’s earnings per share, a metric which indicates how much profit a company makes annually per share outstanding. To calculate it, simply take a company’s net profit and divide it by the number of shares currently outstanding.

Gross And Net Income Example

Here’s an example of how to calculate gross and net income:

1. In 2021, Acme Tech reported $2 billion in total revenue from advertising and services. That revenue cost $500 million in direct costs to generate.

2. To calculate gross income, simply subtract the company’s direct cost of goods and services from their total revenue using this formula:

Gross Income = Total Revenue – Cost of Goods and Services

= $2 billion - $500 million

= $1.5 billion

3. To calculate net income, add up all of a business’ operating expenses, taxes, wages, and other costs to their direct cost of goods and services. For Acme Tech, their total expenses amounted to $1.5 billion during 2021.

4. To calculate net income, simply subtract the company’s total revenue from their total expenses.

Net Income = Total Revenue – Total Expenses

= $2 billion - $1.5 billion

= $500 million

Gross Vs. Net Income: The Difference

What is gross income vs. net income? Gross income and net income indicate different things related to a company’s performance.

Gross income measures how much a company makes on the sale of their products and services after deducting the cost of producing those products and services. This indicates how profitable products are relative to the costs of materials, labor, storage and other costs of producing them.

Investors can look to a company’s gross income and profit margins from previous years or in other industries to see whether a company’s profit margins are increasing or decreasing over time and how competitive it is relative to its peers. If a company’s gross income or profit margin is increasing, an investor can deduce that a company is performing well at pricing its products and controlling its production costs.

If a company’s gross income or profit margin are decreasing then that could indicate that the company’s products are costing more to produce or that they are selling for less, which might indicate future potential problems with sales or growth.

Net income measures how much a company makes after all expenses are figured in. That includes relatively fixed or long-term expenses like administrative wages, lease payments, taxes, and debt payments. Companies can calculate their net profit margin by calculating how much net revenue they bring in relative to their total expenses. This figure will show how profitable the business is as a whole across all product lines.

A company can have a high gross income and profit margin but a low or negative net income and profit margin, suggesting that while their products may be profitable, there is insufficient quantities of that product being sold to support their overhead and administrative costs. Investors can also compare a company’s net income and net profit margin to its figures in previous years to understand how the company’s performance is changing over time and whether it’s improving or not.

Tip: The terms gross income and net income are also used by individuals when calculating their taxes. When it comes to an individual's earnings, gross income is the total income someone is paid by their employer whereas net income is the income someone receives after things like taxes, office supplies, professional fees, and other deductions are subtracted from it.

Bottom Line

Gross income and net income are financial metrics that can be helpful for companies and investors to understand the performance of companies. Both numbers can be used to calculate popular ratio metrics to better understand a company’s financials in order to make informed choices about investing in a company or running it.

This article was written by

Amanda Reaume profile picture
Amanda Reaume has been writing about retirement, investing, and financial planning for over a decade. She has been published in USAToday, Time.com, Yahoo!Finance, Business Insider, Forbes, and Fox Business. She is a former credit expert at Credit.com and wrote a book about financial planning and investing aimed at millennials.

Analyst’s Disclosure: I/we have no stock, option or similar derivative position in any of the companies mentioned, and no plans to initiate any such positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Seeking Alpha's Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. Any views or opinions expressed above may not reflect those of Seeking Alpha as a whole. Seeking Alpha is not a licensed securities dealer, broker or US investment adviser or investment bank. Our analysts are third party authors that include both professional investors and individual investors who may not be licensed or certified by any institute or regulatory body.

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