What is Gross Earnings?

Gross earnings, also known as gross income, represents income before taxes or adjustments. In the accounting world, gross earnings are usually the same thing as gross profit (that is, revenue minus cost of goods sold).

How Does Gross Earnings Work?

Let's assume restaurant chain XYZ sold $1 million worth of food last year. The cost of that food was $330,000. Thus, the company's gross earnings are $1 million - $330,000 = $670,000.

Let's also assume John Doe gets a job that pays $1,000 a week. Though he only brings home $750 due to payroll taxes, his gross earnings are $1,000.

Why Does Gross Earnings Matter?

Gross earnings do not exclude the cost of goods sold, general and administrative expenses, or other costs (those are typically incorporated in the operating income calculation).

For individuals, gross earnings are not the same as taxable income. For example, if John used $250 of his $1,000 a week to invest in his 401(k) plan, his gross earnings would be $1,000 but his taxable income would be $750.