PRE TAX INCOME: Definition and How To Calculate It

Pre Tax income

It is critical to understand the difference between your gross pay and actual income in order to organize your budget more accurately. However, many of us don’t realize or appreciate the distinction until we see it on our tax returns the following year.
Your annual pay does not provide a complete picture of your financial situation.
This is a guide to pre-tax Income. We also examine the definition and how to calculate pre-tax income in this section as well as the advantages and downsides

What is Pre-tax Income?

Pre-tax income, often known as gross income, is your total income before you pay income taxes but after deductions. For example, pre-tax deductions for retirement investment accounts such as a Roth IRA, 401(k), 403(b), and health savings accounts. Assume your salary is $40,000, and you invest 10%, which equals $4,000; your pre-tax income is now $36,000, and your taxable income is $36,000.

As a result, instead of paying taxes on $40,000, you will only pay taxes on $36,000. Your net pay is smaller because you minimize your taxable income by investing in pretax accounts.

What is your Net income after taxes?

Your compensation after tax deductions is referred to as your net income or income after tax. Your income determines your tax bracket and the percentage of taxes you will pay. There are seven federal tax brackets, with percentages ranging from 10% to 37%. The progressive tax system in the United States is comprised of these tax brackets. This simply implies that your income in each tax band is taxed at a higher rate.

Your take-home pay is significantly lower than your pre-tax income. You must ensure that your budget is based on your income after tax, not your pre-tax income because your net income is the actual amount of money you will bring home after taxes and deductions from your paycheck.

How To Calculate Pre-Tax Income

As previously stated, pretax income is computed as the difference between a company’s revenue and its operational expenses, including depreciation and interest, minus income taxes. It can be stated mathematically using the following formula:

Revenue – (Depreciation + COGS + Interest Expenses + SG&A) = Pretax Income

One can also calculate the pre-tax income from the company’s net income. Simply add back taxes to your net income:

Pretax Income = Net Income + Taxes

Pre Tax Income Formula

You can also calculate pre-tax income from other profitability indicators such as EBIT or EBITDA. To calculate pretax income, use the following formulas:

EBIT + Interest Expenses = Pretax Income

EBITDA – (Interest Expenses + Depreciation & Amortization) = Pretax Income

What Is the Purpose of EBT?

A company’s profitability can be measured using a variety of metrics, including but not limited to EBITDA, EBIT, EBT, and net income. Each of the profitability indicators has its own meaning and applications.

Pretax income, for example, is widely used to compare a company’s financial performance to that of its peers, as well as to analyze the company’s success over time.

For organizations that have a considerable number of tax considerations, such as tax credits, carryforwards, and carrybacks, it is generally thought that pretax income is a stronger measure of financial health than net income. In such a case, a company’s net income is distorted by tax considerations. As a result, the metric does not accurately portray the company’s financial performance from its operations.

Pretax income (EBT), on the other hand, excludes the company’s tax expenses and maybe a better measure of performance.

Example of Pre-Tax Income Calculation

For our illustration situation, we’ll use the following financials to calculate a company’s pre-tax income.

  • Revenue = $100,000,000
  • COGS = $50,000,000
  • Expenses for Operations = $20 million
  • Net interest expense = $5 million

Using the supplied assumptions, the gross profit is $50 million, and the operating income (EBIT) is $30 million.

Following that, pre-tax income equals EBIT minus interest expenditure.

Income before taxes = $30 million – $5 million = $25 million

Divide the EBT by the revenue to get the pre-tax profit margin.

Pre-Tax Margin = $25,000,000 / $100,000,000 = 25%

The next step before arriving at net income is to multiply pre-tax income by the assumed 30% tax rate, which comes out to $18 million.

Pretax Income vs. Taxable Income

The concepts of pretax income (EBT) and taxable income should not be confused. Pretax income is a monetary number that appears on a company’s financial accounts. Accounting principles, rather than existing tax legislation, dictate pre-tax income calculations. Essentially, pretax income serves as a foundation for calculating an estimate of tax expense. To calculate tax expenses for a period, the relevant tax rate is applied to the pretax income amount.

Taxable income, on the other hand, is a figure derived under the guidelines of a certain jurisdiction’s tax legislation. In other words, a corporation determines the real amount of money it must pay in taxes for a given period by using the taxable income in its tax filings.

The Importance of Pretax Income

#1. Provides information about a company’s financial situation.

Taxes have an impact on a company’s overall earnings. Thus, pretax earnings provide an insight into the company’s financial performance and position before tax expense influences net earnings and causes variations.

#2. Allows for smooth, unbiased inter-and intra-company comparisons.

When undertaking an inter-company or intra-company financial study or comparison, an organization’s year-to-year tax expense can fluctuate greatly. This is due to the fact that tax rules, tax rates, and incentives differ greatly from industry to industry, year to year, and nation to country. In addition, businesses can use tax credits and carryover losses in any given year.

Pretax income, as opposed to net earnings after tax, allows for a much better comparison of the company over time and to other organizations. Examining pretax income eliminates any disparities or implications that a tax expense may have on an organization’s earnings.

#3. Aids in measuring a company’s financial health over time

Another relevance of pretax earnings is that it provides a more consistent and reliable indicator of a company’s total financial success and fiscal health over time. Pretax earnings reduce the unpredictable disparities that exist when tax concerns are taken into account.

#4. Functions as a profitability ratio

Pretax earnings can also be used to accurately estimate a company’s profitability. The pretax earnings margin is calculated as the ratio of a company’s pretax earnings to total sales. The higher the ratio, the more profitable the company’s position. Using the data supplied above, Company ABC’s pretax earnings margin is $6,915,000 / $8,000,000 (Pretax Earnings/Total Sales) = 87 percent.

The Tax Advantages of Pre-Tax Income

You obtain a tax break if you can pay for an expense with pre-tax income. This is due to the fact that employing income deemed “before taxes” allows you to avoid paying government taxes in certain circumstances.

Taxes can eat up a large portion of your earnings, so if you can avoid paying them, you will save a lot of money.

If you earn taxable income in the United States, you must pay your fair share of taxes on that income. Taxable income, on the other hand, is computed after tax deductions and credits are deducted.

When pre-tax income is spent, it effectively becomes a tax deduction that benefits the taxpayer.

Taxes have already been withheld when you receive your salary, therefore the majority of paychecks are already post-tax.

There are a few scenarios in which you can divert income from your paycheck to other accounts or use it for certain needs. Income used for a specific pre-tax scenario is excluded from your total taxable income at the end of the year.

A 401(k) retirement account is a regular benefit of pre-tax income. Before taxes, you can contribute directly to a 401(k) from your paycheck.

For example, if your biweekly gross salary is $2,000 and you contribute 10% of your income to a 401(k) account, $200 will be placed into the 401(k) account with each paycheck.

If you had not contributed to a 401(k) plan, your total taxable income at the end of the year would have been $52,000.

However, your taxable income for the year is reduced to $46,800 since you were able to avoid paying taxes on $5,200.

In other words, you only have to pay income taxes on $46,800 for that year, rather than $52,000.

Placement on the Income Statement

Pretax earnings are presented on an organization’s income statement right before the calculation of a company’s final net profit or net earnings. The figure is expressed as Earnings Before Taxes (EBT) or Profit Before Taxes (PBT).

What is the distinction between pre-tax and post-tax income?

When people discuss their income and salary and tell you how much money they make, the figures they use are usually pre-tax figures. That is, they are referring to their income before taxes are deducted. The problem is that when you are paid, your salary is paid after taxes. This means that you are paid after taxes and other deductions have been deducted from your salary.

The following deductions may be made from your paycheck:

  • Federal: Determined by your gross income and the details on your W-4 form.
  • State and/or municipal (if applicable)
  • FICA
  • Health, dental, and group life insurance.
  • 401(k), pension, and Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

What remains is your take-home pay (also known as your net pay) and how much you actually make.

Even though you are paid after taxes, many people still think of their annual wage in terms of pre-tax numbers. Your annual pay after-tax deductions can be significantly less, leading some people to believe they make more than they do. This, in turn, might have a significant impact on their total financial planning. As a result, people may end up spending more than they can afford.

Earnings Before Interest and Taxes vs. Pretax Income (EBIT)

Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) refers to a company’s net earnings before accounting for any interest and tax expenses, whereas Earnings Before Tax (EBT) refers to a company’s net earnings after accounting for all operating, depreciation, and interest expenses, as well as interest income, but before accounting for any tax expenses.

The two names are frequently used interchangeably. The biggest distinction between them is in the amount of interest paid. EBIT is before deducting interest expenses and taxes, whereas EBT is after deducting all interest charges and adding all interest incomes to a company’s operating income.


Pre-tax earnings are a measure of a company’s profitability that excludes the tax burden. Most investors and shareholders look at this statistic only to comprehend the company’s financial performance. However, removing taxes allows you to analyze financial results across industries at comparable levels.

Pre Tax Income FAQs

What does pre-tax mean on my paycheck?

Pretax deductions are deductions made from an employee’s paycheck before taxes are deducted. Pretax deductions reduce taxable income and the amount owing to the government since they are deducted from gross pay for taxation purposes.

Is salary pre or post-tax?

When people discuss their income and salary and tell you how much money they make, the figures they use are usually pre-tax figures. That is, they are referring to their income before taxes are deducted. The problem is that when you are paid, your salary is paid after taxes.

How do pre-tax deductions affect take home pay?

Pretax deductions reduce taxable income because they are deducted from gross pay before taxes are deducted from employees’ paychecks. This procedure ultimately results in better net compensation for those employees than if the perks were after-tax.

What is the maximum tax refund you can get?

There is no cap on the amount of your tax refund. High-value tax refunds, on the other hand, may be sent as a paper check rather than a direct deposit in some situations. The IRS does not disclose the threshold for when a check is sent instead of a direct deposit, however direct deposits are limited to three per account.

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