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In finance, a commission is a service charge levied by a broker or investment advisor for providing investment advice or handling purchases and sales of securities. The commission is usually a percentage of the total transaction amount. Essentially, it’s the fee earned by an agent for facilitating a transaction.


The phonetics of the word “Commission” is /kəˈmɪʃən/.

Key Takeaways

Main Takeaways about Commission

  1. Definition: Commission is a form of monetary reward given to employees, often salespeople, for achieving pre-determined business goals, such as selling a certain amount of products or services.
  2. Benefits: Commissions can motivate employees to work harder and achieve more since their earnings are directly linked to their success. It can promote healthy competition and drive growth within the business.
  3. Risks: However, relying solely on commissions can lead to inconsistent earnings for employees and might lead to unhealthy pressure or unethical behaviors if not regulated and balanced with a stable base salary.


Commission is an important term in business and finance as it denotes a specific type of remuneration model that directly links an employee’s pay with the amount of business they generate. This serves as a key motivational tool as it directly rewards an individual’s performance and ability to contribute to a company’s revenue, often promoting higher levels of incentive and productivity. It is especially prevalent in roles involving sales, brokerage and other transaction-oriented jobs. Additionally, for companies, commission-based pay can help manage operational costs as payments are only made when a transaction occurs or goals are achieved. Therefore, understanding of ‘commission’ is crucial in various aspects of business strategy, human resource management and financial planning.


A commission serves as an incentive-based form of payment to stimulate sales personnel or a brokerage to achieve specific objectives set by a company or individual. Given to employees usually within the sales genre, or to intermediaries involved in promoting a transaction, commissions motivate them to push for more significant sales volumes, higher value deals, or lucrative client signings. This type of payment structure allows salespeople to directly benefit from the results of their efforts, incentivizing improved performance and fostering competitiveness.Moreover, commission is commonly used to align the goals of the employee with those of the company. It’s a form of participative procedure where the payout to the employee or the broker reflects their contribution to the company’s revenue generation. In the world of financial trading or real estate, brokers’ income often depends on commissions. They serve as mediators and are remunerated for facilitating transactions. Hence, the use of commission brings about a merit-based reward system, effectively creating an environment that promotes better productivity and increased profitability.


1. Real Estate Agents: One of the most common examples of commission in business is the fee earned by real estate agents. When a real estate agent helps to sell a property, they typically receive a commission as a percentage of the sale price. For instance, if an agent sells a house for $300,000 and the commission rate is 5%, the agent will receive $15,000.2. Insurance Brokers: Insurance brokers often earn commission from insurance companies when they sell their policies to clients. For example, for an insurance policy with a premium of $2,000 per year, if the commission rate is 10%, the broker will earn $200 in commission.3. Sales Representatives: Many companies, especially ones that sell physical products, offer commission-based compensation to their sales employees. For instance, a car salesperson may earn a certain percentage of the profit resulting from each sale they make. If they sell a car worth $40,000 and the commission rate is 2%, they may earn $800 from that sale.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a commission?

A commission is a fee paid to an agent or employee for transacting a piece of business or performing a service. In finance, this often refers to the fee a broker or agent receives for facilitating a transaction, like the sale of a house or financial product.

How is a commission calculated?

Commission structures can vary. Some may be a fixed amount, while others are a percentage of the sale made. The specific terms are usually set out in a contractual agreement.

Who typically pays the commission?

The party that employs the services of the broker or agent usually pays the commission. In the case of a home sale, for instance, the seller typically pays the commission.

Is the commission a one-time payment?

Yes, a commission is generally a one-time payment made per transaction. However, in some industries or scenarios, there could be recurring commissions for ongoing services.

Are commissions and salaries the same?

No, commissions and salaries are different. A salary is a fixed annual amount paid to an employee, while a commission is usually a variable amount that depends on the employee’s performance or the completion of a transaction.

Is commission income taxable?

Yes, in most jurisdictions, commission income is considered taxable income. The specific tax rates might depend on total income, so it’s a good idea to consult a tax professional.

Can a job be solely commission-based?

Yes, some jobs, particularly in sales, real estate, and finance, can be entirely commission-based, meaning income depends solely on the number of sales or deals closed.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of commission-based pay?

The primary advantage of commission-based pay is the potential for higher earnings because the more you sell, the more you earn. The disadvantage is income instability – if you have slow sales, your income can greatly fluctuate.

What are some common industries that typically offer commission-based roles?

Real estate, insurance, car sales, financial services, and many roles within the sales industry often offer commission-based compensation.

How can I track the commission I’ve earned?

Employers often provide regular statements outlining your earned commissions. However, it’s also recommended that you keep your records for comparison and tax purposes.

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