Many people want to figure out how to estimate take-home pay for a new job or a potential job change. But what if you want to figure out your gross income? The first place to look to determine your monthly income before taxes is your paystub. You can use a monthly income calculator online, but figuring out how much you make before taxes is a fairly simple calculation. Your method will depend upon whether you're an hourly employee or a salaried employee as well as how often you get paid.
Are you Hourly or Salaried?
Some employees are paid by the hour; they are paid a set rate for every hour they work, and if they work more than 40 hours per week, they can make overtime pay, which is generally 1.5 times their regular hourly rate (this is called time-and-a-half pay). If you're an hourly employee, for instance, and you make $10 per hour, you'll make $400 in one week if you work 40 hours per week. If you work 50 hours, you'll receive $400, plus 10 hours at $15 per hour, for a total of $550.
Other employees are paid a set amount every year, regardless of how much they work. That set annual amount is called a salary. Whether a salaried employee works 40 hours or 70 hours, his pay is the same.
How Often are You Paid?
Pay periods are typically calculated on a weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly or monthly basis. Weekly paychecks come once per week, for 52 pay periods in one year; bi-weekly paychecks come every two weeks, for 26 pay periods in one year; semi-monthly paychecks come twice per month, usually on the first and the 15th, or on the 15th and the last day of the month, for 24 pay periods in one year; and monthly paychecks come once per month, either on the first, the 15th or the last day, for 12 pay periods per year. If you know how much you make per hour and how many hours you work, or if you know your salary, you can figure out your monthly income before taxes based on your pay frequency.
Take a Look at Your Paystub
If you receive a paystub, either electronically or in paper form, you can usually look at the paystub to get information about how much you make before taxes. A typical paystub shows your base pay for the pay period and then itemizes the taxes and other deductions to arrive at your take-home pay. There should be separate categories for earnings or wages and deductions. Your earnings will tell you the amount you made before taxes.
Calculating Monthly Income Before Taxes for Salaried Employees
If you're a salaried employee, your human resources department or office manager should be able to tell you what your annual salary is if you don't already know. Otherwise, you can look at your pay stub to figure it out. Under your earnings or wages, your current pay before taxes should be shown. You can take that amount and multiply it by the number of pay periods in a year, and then divide by 12. So if you get paid every two weeks, you have 26 pay periods in one year, meaning you'll get 26 paychecks. If your pay stub says your earnings before deductions for that two-week period are $2,500, you can multiply that by 26 to get $65,000. That's your annual salary. If you divide that by 12 months in one year, you get $5,416.67 per month. That's your monthly income before taxes.
Calculating Monthly Income Before Taxes for Hourly Employees
If you're paid by the hour, your calculations are still similar. If you work the same number of hours every pay period, multiply your hourly rate by the number of hours you work every week and make the calculation. If you make $20 per hour and always work 40 hours per week, your gross pay is $800 per week. Multiply that by 52 weeks in one year, and your annual gross pay is $41,600. Divide that by 12 to get your monthly gross pay of $3,466.67.
Hourly Employees with Irregular Hours
If you work irregular hours and/or occasionally work overtime, you can calculate your average monthly income to get an idea. To come to an average, you add up each item and then divide by the number of items. So if you want to know how much you make on average in a four-week period, add up the gross pay you earned in week one, week two, week three and week four, and then divide by four. To illustrate, say you worked 30 hours in week one, 40 hours in week two, 10 hours in week three and 35 hours in week four. If you make $15 per hour, you'll have grossed $450 in week one, $600 in week two, $150 in week three and $525 in week four. If you add up those amounts, you get $1,725 for the four weeks. When you divide by four, you get an average of $431.25 per week. If you multiply that by 52 weeks in a year, you have $22,425, which divided by 12 is an average of $1,868.75 per month.
Rebecca K. McDowell is an attorney focused on debts and finance. She has a B.A. in English and a J.D. She has written finance and tax articles for Zacks and eHow.