Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Ordinary Income


Ordinary income refers to the type of income that is regularly generated from various sources such as salary, wages, commissions, dividends and interest. It’s different from capital gains, which is earned from the sale of an investment or property. It is subject to standard tax rates and it is reported to the IRS through W-2 forms or other income reports.


The phonetics of the keyword “Ordinary Income” is: Ordinary – /ˈɔːrdnˌeri/Income – /ˈɪnkʌm/

Key Takeaways


Definition: Ordinary income is any type of income earned by an individual or business that’s subject to standard tax rates. It’s a type of income that is frequently received from normal operations or business activities.


Sources: This can include wages, salaries, tips, and commissions. It can also include interest earned on savings or investments, as well as revenue generated from the sale of assets or goods and services in the course of business.


Taxation: Ordinary income is subject to taxation at both the federal and state levels. The tax rate for ordinary income varies based on the income bracket in which the individual or business falls.


Ordinary income is a crucial term in business and finance as it refers to the income that a company generates through its regular business operations. It typically excludes profits gained from capital investments or unusual, extraordinary events. This term is significant because it offers a clear view of a company’s profitability from its core business activities, without including temporary or non-recurring events. Therefore, it provides an accurate measurement of the business’ financial health, operational efficiency, and profitability, which investors and creditors often use to assess the company’s performance and stability. Ordinary income also plays a key role in tax calculations as it is usually subject to ordinary income tax rates.


Ordinary income is a crucial component in the world of business and finance as it characterizes the primary way that a company or individual earns money during the regular course of business or work. This type of income is key to determining the profitability of a business or the earning capacity of an individual. For businesses, ordinary income can stem from the sales of goods and services, while for individuals it might come from wages, salaries, commissions, or tips. This is the income that fuels the ongoing operational costs of a business and supports the daily living expenses of individuals.The purpose of ordinary income is closely tied to tax obligations. From the perspective of tax authorities, such as the IRS in the U.S., it’s important to differentiate ordinary income from other types of income – like long-term investment gains or inheritances – as these may be subject to different tax rates and regulations. Therefore, understanding and calculating ordinary income correctly is essential for both financial planning and compliance with tax laws. By accurately calculating ordinary income, businesses and individuals can ensure they are not over or under-paying their taxes, thus avoiding potential legal issues while maximizing their net income.


1. Salary/Wages: A clear example of ordinary income involves people who work for a living and earn a wage or salary. This is the most common type of ordinary income, which could be paid on an hourly, weekly, or monthly basis. It is ordinary because it is of a recurring nature and is expected to be received continuously in future years for services rendered.2. Interest Income: This is generated from money placed in a savings account, certificate of deposit or lent out in form of a personal loan or bond. The interest earned from these investments is regarded as ordinary income because it is from a usual or routine activity and is expected to be received continuously in the future.3. Rental Income: If you rent out a property you own, like a house or apartment, the rental income you receive is also regarded as ordinary income. This is a form of income generated from recurring operational activities and thus, falls under ordinary income.All these types of income are subject to regular tax rates, and they are considered to be ordinary because they are the outcome of typical, everyday business activities.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is ordinary income?

Ordinary income refers to the earnings that an individual or business receives through employment, business operations or investments. This income usually comes regularly and is taxable.

How is ordinary income classified?

Ordinary income can be classified as active income, which is income resulting from an individual’s effort such as salaries, wages, tips, commissions, and income from a business where there is material participation; portfolio income, which is income such as interest, dividends, royalties, and capital gains; and passive income, which is usually from real estate or business where the individual is not actively involved.

How is ordinary income taxed?

Ordinary income is taxed at regular federal income tax rates. The exact rate will depend on the taxpayer’s income level.

What is the difference between ordinary income and capital gain?

Ordinary income refers to the regular income you receive such as your salary, whereas a capital gain is a profit made from the sale of an investment or property. Capital gains are often taxed at different rates than ordinary income.

Can ordinary income change from year to year?

Yes, ordinary income fluctuates and can change from year to year based on changes in earnings, investments, and other income-generating activities.

What constitutes as non-ordinary income?

Non-ordinary income can include windfalls you might receive that aren’t related to your usual income-producing activities – for example, lottery winnings, inheritances, or proceeds from insurance payouts.

Related Finance Terms

Sources for More Information

About Our Editorial Process

At Due, we are dedicated to providing simple money and retirement advice that can make a big impact in your life. Our team closely follows market shifts and deeply understands how to build REAL wealth. All of our articles undergo thorough editing and review by financial experts, ensuring you get reliable and credible money advice.

We partner with leading publications, such as Nasdaq, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, and more, to provide insights on retirement, current markets, and more.

We also host a financial glossary of over 7000 money/investing terms to help you learn more about how to take control of your finances.

View our editorial process

About Our Journalists

Our journalists are not just trusted, certified financial advisers. They are experienced and leading influencers in the financial realm, trusted by millions to provide advice about money. We handpick the best of the best, so you get advice from real experts. Our goal is to educate and inform, NOT to be a ‘stock-picker’ or ‘market-caller.’ 

Why listen to what we have to say?

While Due does not know how to predict the market in the short-term, our team of experts DOES know how you can make smart financial decisions to plan for retirement in the long-term.

View our expert review board

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More