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What counts as taxable income? Everything you need to know

When it comes to taxes, one of the most important things to understand is what counts as taxable income. While it may seem straightforward, there are actually a variety of different types of income that may be subject to taxation. In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about taxable income and how it affects your tax bill.

Wages and Salaries

The most common type of taxable income is wages and salaries. If you receive a paycheck from an employer, the income you earn is subject to federal and state income taxes, as well as Social Security and Medicare taxes. These taxes are typically withheld automatically from your paycheck, so you don’t need to worry about calculating or paying them separately.


If you work in a job where you receive tips, these tips are considered taxable income. This includes tips received in cash or through a credit card tip pool. Even if you receive tips in addition to a base wage, all of your income is subject to taxation.

Self-Employment Income

If you’re self-employed, you’ll need to report your income on your tax return and pay taxes on it accordingly. This includes income earned from freelancing, consulting work, or any other type of self-employment. You’ll need to file a Form 1040 and pay both income tax and self-employment tax (which covers Social Security and Medicare).

Investment Income

Income from investments is also subject to taxation. This includes interest income from savings accounts, dividends from stocks, and capital gains from selling assets like stocks or real estate. The rate at which these types of income are taxed depends on how long you’ve held the asset and your overall income level.

Retirement Income

Income from retirement accounts, such as 401(k) plans or traditional IRAs, is also subject to taxation when you withdraw the funds. This is known as “distributions.” Roth IRA accounts are an exception to this rule, as they are funded with after-tax dollars and withdrawals are tax-free.

Rental Income

If you own rental property, any income you earn from renting it out is subject to taxation. This includes both rental income and any appreciation in the property value if you later sell it.

Unemployment Benefits

If you receive unemployment benefits, this income is taxable. You may have the option to have taxes withheld from your benefit payments to avoid a big tax bill at the end of the year.

Other Income

Other types of income that may be subject to taxation include alimony, gambling winnings, and prizes or awards. In general, any income you receive that is not specifically exempted from taxation is considered taxable income.

In conclusion, it’s important to understand what counts as taxable income when it comes to preparing and filing your tax returns. By taking the time to carefully report all of your income, you can avoid any penalties and stay in compliance with tax laws. Consult with a tax professional if you have any questions or concerns about your taxable income.

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