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Gross Receipts: Definition, How It Works, and Taxation Examples

Last updated 03/20/2024 by

Abi Bus

Edited by

Fact checked by

Gross receipts, a critical element for taxation in several states and local tax authorities, encompass all cash and property receipts without considering expenses or deductions. Unlike gross sales, gross receipts comprise various income sources beyond a business’s core activities, such as tax refunds, interest income, and donations. This article explores the concept of gross receipts, its variations by state and municipality, and the implications for businesses. It also provides insights into how specific states, like Texas and Ohio, define gross receipts for tax purposes. Understanding gross receipts is vital for businesses operating in regions where it forms the basis of taxation.

What are gross receipts?

Gross receipts serve as a cornerstone for corporate taxation in select states and local tax authorities. This metric is vital for businesses in these regions, as it directly affects their tax liabilities. To comprehend the significance of gross receipts, it’s essential to dissect the concept and understand its implications.

Understanding gross receipts

Gross receipts are the total amount of all receipts in cash or property, without any adjustments for expenses or other deductible items. This fundamental financial metric goes beyond what is typically considered in gross sales, as it includes all types of income, irrespective of their relation to a business’s core activities. These non-operational income sources may encompass tax refunds, donations, interest and dividend income, among others. Notably, gross receipts calculations do not account for discounts or price adjustments, making it a comprehensive representation of a business’s total income.
In some states and local tax jurisdictions, gross receipts are used as the basis for taxation, in contrast to corporate income tax or sales tax. Businesses operating in such areas need to be well-versed in the concept of gross receipts to ensure they meet their tax obligations.

State examples of gross receipts

State definitions of gross receipts can vary, and it’s crucial to understand the specific criteria used for taxation. Let’s take a look at examples from two states, Texas and Ohio, to gain a better insight into how gross receipts are defined:


In Texas, gross receipts for businesses are defined under the Texas Tax Code Section 171.103. According to this code, gross receipts include:
  • Each sale of tangible personal property, regardless of the FOB point or another condition of the sale, if the property is delivered or shipped to a buyer in Texas.
  • Each service performed in Texas, except for receipts derived from servicing loans secured by real property, which are considered in Texas if the real property is located in the state.
  • Each rental of property situated in Texas.
  • The use of a patent, copyright, trademark, franchise, or license in Texas.
  • Each sale of property located in Texas, including royalties from oil, gas, or other mineral interests.
  • Other business transacted in Texas.


Ohio defines gross receipts for the purposes of the Commercial Activity Tax (CAT) under the Ohio Revised Code Section 5751.01. In this context, gross receipts are described as:
  • The total amount realized by a person, without deductions for the cost of goods sold or other expenses incurred, that contributes to the production of the person’s gross income.
  • This includes the fair market value of any property and any services received, as well as any debt transferred or forgiven as consideration.
These definitions provide clear guidelines for businesses operating in Texas and Ohio regarding what constitutes gross receipts for tax purposes. However, it’s important to note that definitions may vary in other regions with their own tax regulations.

Exclusions to gross receipts

While understanding what is included in gross receipts is crucial, it’s equally important to be aware of exclusions or items that are not considered part of gross receipts. Tax authorities often provide detailed lists of these exclusions. Be sure to consult your local tax regulations to determine which items may be excluded from gross receipts in your area.
Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks of using gross receipts for taxation:
  • Simplicity: Gross receipts taxation is straightforward and doesn’t involve complex calculations or deductions, making it easier for businesses to comply with tax requirements.
  • Inclusive: It captures all types of income, including non-operational sources, ensuring a comprehensive approach to taxation.
  • Stable Revenue Source: For states and local authorities, gross receipts taxation can provide a stable revenue source, as it’s less susceptible to economic fluctuations.
  • Potential Impact on Small Businesses: Smaller businesses, heavily reliant on non-operational income, may face a proportionally higher tax burden, which could affect their financial health.
  • Lack of Nuance: Gross receipts taxation doesn’t consider the specific nature of a business or its profitability, potentially treating all businesses in the same way.
  • Possible Double Taxation: Some critics argue that gross receipts taxation can result in double taxation, as income from non-operational sources may already be subject to specific taxes.

Frequently asked questions

Are gross receipts the same as gross sales?

No, gross receipts and gross sales are not the same. Gross sales typically refer to the total revenue generated from the primary business activities, excluding non-operational income sources. In contrast, gross receipts encompass all cash and property receipts, including non-operational income such as tax refunds, interest income, and donations.

How do states use gross receipts for taxation?

States may use gross receipts as the basis for corporate taxation, which means that businesses are subject to tax based on their total income, without deductions for expenses. The specific criteria and rates may vary from state to state.

Can I deduct expenses from gross receipts for tax purposes?

Generally, gross receipts do not allow deductions for expenses. However, the rules and regulations governing deductions can vary by state and locality. It’s essential to consult your local tax authority to understand the specific deductions and exclusions applicable in your area.

Are gross receipts the same as revenue?

No, gross receipts and revenue are not identical. Gross receipts represent the total amount of cash and property received by a business, including non-operational sources like interest income and donations. Revenue, on the other hand, typically refers to the income generated from a company’s primary operations, such as selling products or providing services. Gross receipts offer a broader perspective on a business’s income.

Why do some states use gross receipts for taxation instead of other methods?

States may opt to use gross receipts for taxation for several reasons. It can be a simpler and more direct way to tax businesses, as it doesn’t require complex deductions or calculations. Additionally, it ensures that all types of income, including non-operational sources, are subject to taxation, potentially increasing state revenue. However, the specific reasons for using gross receipts as a taxation method can vary from one state to another.

Can gross receipts affect small businesses differently than larger corporations?

Yes, gross receipts can have different implications for small businesses compared to larger corporations. Smaller businesses may rely more heavily on non-operational income sources, such as interest and dividend income, in proportion to their overall income. This means that taxing gross receipts could have a more significant impact on their financial health. Larger corporations, with more diverse income streams, may be affected differently. Understanding the specific regulations in your state is crucial for both small and large businesses.

Do I need to report gross receipts on my federal tax return?

Gross receipts may not be directly reported on your federal tax return, but they are relevant for state and local taxation. However, certain businesses, especially sole proprietorships and self-employed individuals, may use gross receipts as part of their federal tax calculations. It’s advisable to consult a tax professional or refer to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidelines for your specific tax reporting requirements.

Key takeaways

  • Gross receipts encompass all cash and property receipts without adjustments for expenses or deductions.
  • They include non-operational income sources like tax refunds, donations, and interest income.
  • Some states and local tax authorities use gross receipts as the basis for taxation.
  • Definitions and exclusions to gross receipts may vary by state and jurisdiction.
  • Understanding gross receipts is crucial for businesses operating in regions where it forms the basis of taxation.

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