Your employee income tax is calculated as a fraction of your overall ________, be it through wages or salary, but not your gains from invested savings."

what do I put down in the ______ ? Is it "income"? Something else?

  • 8
    Why don't you just use pay?
    – tchrist
    Sep 28, 2015 at 11:30
  • 8
    From a technical standpoint (rather than a language standpoint) I would suggest taxable income. The word "taxable" is important here, as it is possible to have non-taxable income from your employer (I believe... I'm not an expert on income tax).
    – AndyT
    Sep 28, 2015 at 12:50
  • @AndyT e.g. expenses supported by receipts (in most places). An expense allowance is more likely to be taxable.
    – Chris H
    Sep 28, 2015 at 12:56
  • @ChrisH - That's what I was thinking of, but then while writing I started worrying that maybe expenses would not be counted as "income" at all but would instead come under some other term.
    – AndyT
    Sep 28, 2015 at 13:49
  • 4
    @AndyT: Isn't rent a kind of taxable income? Or stock-holder dividends?
    – einpoklum
    Sep 28, 2015 at 14:49

8 Answers 8


Depends on what country (legal jurisdiction) you're in, and the context of the document or conversation. What others have suggested:

  • Remuneration
  • Compensation
  • Total Compensation
  • Income
  • Earnings
  • Earned Income
  • Pay

The conditions on the left side and right sides of your snippet really narrows the field:

be it through wages or salary, but not your gains from invested savings

  • Remuneration (a old geeky word, hard to pin down, so it could work, but it's mouthful to pronounce in conversation)
  • Compensation (still works)
  • Total Compensation (this could cause confusion as it might include invested savings)
  • Income (no, income in 90% of the world also includes investments)
  • Earnings (works, but some could construe the interest in that)
  • Earned Income (maybe the best, especially if you're in the U.S.)
  • Pay (works, sufficiently broad, if that is desirable)

Like I said, it's a context issue. Writing a legal document? Policy document?

If you were writing a conditional job offer, a brochure, or in a face-to-face with a recruit or employee, my choice would be compensation package. That's the common phrase in those forum.

edited for spelling errors



: an amount of money paid to someone for the work that person has done

— Merriam-Webster

  • Why do you think 'remuneration' would be better than 'earnings'? If so, why?
    – einpoklum
    Sep 28, 2015 at 10:48
  • 2
    @einpoklum - Read the definitions - 'earnings' usually includes investment income, which is specifically excluded in the Question.
    – JHCL
    Sep 28, 2015 at 10:50
  • @epinoklum If you study "accounting", you would see "earnings" are more widely used to describe profit of a company rather than an individual's income.
    – user140086
    Sep 28, 2015 at 11:02
  • Compensation

A worker is "compensated" for his/her labor, whether by the hour (wages) or by the year (salary).

Sometimes, to make clear that the compensation includes tips, bonuses, stock options, perks, or other money received from an employer (in addition to salary or wages) people use the term:

  • Total [Annual] Compensation

Note: there is also Workers' Compensation, usually paid by the state, to workers who are unable to work for a period. This is compensation for hours not worked, and is often not considered "income" ** for tax purposes**. The IRS does not consider it part of one's AGI (Adjusted Gross Income), so it is not taxable at the federal level. (It is, in a sense, an insurance payout, as it is funded by premiums in the form of payroll deductions). Various states, however, might treat Workers' "comp" differently with regard to taxation. Unemployment compensation is similarly funded, by unemployment insurance premiums deducted from workers' paychecks, and may be treated similarly for tax purposes.

  • In my opinion, people prefer "income" to "compensation" as it has another meaning of paying for damages or loss.
    – user140086
    Sep 28, 2015 at 11:26
  • 2
    @Rathony: True, but "income" is much too broad to answer OP's query, as it encompasses both "active" income (based on labor; i.e, wages, salary, and the other types I enumerated); as well as "passive" income (capital gains, interest, dividends, rents, royalties, etc.) Sep 28, 2015 at 11:31
  • 1
    I think 'compensation' is a good word; in employment, companies and candidates negotiate a compensation package, which includes salary, bonuses, benefits, etc.
    – user1359
    Sep 28, 2015 at 14:20
  • 4
    I would argue that compensation also includes things like vacation, sick time, medical and dental, employee services, concierge, fridge full of soda, and other things that don't usually go on your taxes.
    – corsiKa
    Sep 28, 2015 at 18:32
  • Since the asker's example is of a legal nature regarding income tax, one should expect the answer to match the forms of the taxing body. The IRS of the United States seems to prefer "Compensation", as written on a sample W-2 form, "Wages, tips, and other compensation."
    – user39425
    Sep 30, 2015 at 9:21

I would personally use "earnings" in lieu of income:

Earnings: money obtained in return for labour or services, or income derived from an investment or product.

  • If you study "accounting", you would see "earnings" are more widely used to describe profit of a company rather than an individual's income. "Corporate Earnings Season" (0), "Corporate Income Season (X)",
    – user140086
    Sep 28, 2015 at 11:03
  • 3
    In the US, earnings can refer to the money people earn as well as to corporate profits; we often see the phrase "corporate earnings".
    – TimR
    Sep 28, 2015 at 12:46
  • 2
    Since the question refers to Income Tax, 'earning' appears to be the most apt alternative. Sep 28, 2015 at 13:46
  • 3
    The US IRS has a specific term for this situation : earned income. Sep 28, 2015 at 15:53

The Internal Revenue Service in the US refers to it as earned income.

  • 4
    The top tax rate (and thus each tier below it) should be in a sexy tango with the minimum wage: the higher the minimum wage the lower the top tax rate can dip. The top one-percenters would be clamoring for minimum wage increases.
    – TimR
    Sep 28, 2015 at 18:29
  • As does UK's HMRC hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/rdrmmanual/rdrm10415.htm
    – mmmmmm
    Sep 29, 2015 at 18:09
  • Remuneration

You cannot work only thinking about the remuneration and not the job itself.

  • Earnings

The earnings of a salesperson usually correspond to their experience and the quantity of sales done.

  • Pay

The software firm ensured a pay hike to most of the senior level employees.


Any of these are good as the answer to your question.

  • 1
    "Remuneration" and "earnings" were already given as answers, but "pay" (which was not already mentioned) is a valid answer too, I think.
    – David K
    Sep 29, 2015 at 12:06

Income: a gain or recurrent benefit usually measured in money that derives from capital or labor; also: the amount of such gain received in a period of time

Merriam Webster Dictionary

Anyone with income over a certain amount must pay federal income taxes. Most states also impose an income tax, and in some places there are local income taxes as well. As we discussed in Income Taxes, tax rates vary by the amount of income and whether you're a single filer or married filing jointly.

from Schwab Moneywise

  • So, your "overall income" definition includes benefits derived "from capital or labor". But the OP's example, "...overall ________ ) specifically excludes at least one kind of benefit from capital ("gains from invested savings") so it cannot be equivalent to overall "income" as you have defined it. Sep 28, 2015 at 11:59
  • @Brian Hitchcock Most countries never impose an income tax on gains from invested savings as there is "double taxation" argument. It is natural to exclude gains from investment savings for income tax calculation. I don't think compensation also includes gains from invested savings. You don't use "taxable compensation" "non-taxable compensation". You use "taxable income" and "non-taxable income". In this sense, Income has a wider meaning than compensation.
    – user140086
    Sep 28, 2015 at 12:04
  • That's exactly what I was saying. It's broader. As for countries not taxing investment income, it's no wonder so many people want to hide theirs outside of the US. I guess we should have asked the OP upfront whether they wanted an amswer for US or for somewhere else. As you cited Charles Schwab, I thought you were trying to answer in AmE terminology. Sep 28, 2015 at 12:14
  • @BrianHitchcock Good point. The reason it is called "unemployment compensation / Benefit" rather than "unemployment income" is that the purpose of the money paid out by State or Federal Government is to compensate for the loss an individual is suffering because of unemployment. I think Income is better word to put there than compensation. In a sense, compensation has a broader meaning than income as a normal salaryman will not get "Unemployment Compensation" for his income. In terms of calculating tax, I think it is best to use the term "income." whether non-taxbles are excluded or included.
    – user140086
    Sep 28, 2015 at 12:25

A less-used alternative might be emoluments:-

the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisitesn [Merriam-Webster]

In the employment snobbery scale, wages are good, salary is better, and fees quite desirable, but emoluments are best of all.

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