Disposable Income Calculator

Created by Tibor Pál, PhD candidate
Reviewed by Bogna Szyk and Jack Bowater
Based on research by
Krugman P, Wells R. Economics, Fifth Edition (2017)
Last updated: Dec 09, 2022

The disposable income calculator tells you how much of your income you have left after familial (or individual) obligations to the government. If you read further, you can learn about what disposable income is, get familiar with the disposable income formula, and read about the role of disposable personal income (also known as disposable earnings) in macroeconomics.

What is the disposable income definition?

Disposable personal income is an economic term that refers to the part of income available for households or non-corporate businesses for spending or saving after meeting all their tax obligations and receiving government transfers. Transactions to the government include all personal taxes and some special non-tax payments such as traffic tickets. Transfers received from the government cover all transactions without expecting a good or service in return. It can be any welfare, financial aid (for example, unemployment benefits), or social security payments made by the government.

🔎 Wondering which tax bracket you fall into? Omni's tax bracket calculator might be able to help.

The disposable income formula – How to calculate disposable income?

The estimation of disposable income involves a simple formula: the only thing that you need to do is to subtract the personal taxes and other legal obligations from the personal income and add any transfers received from the government:

Disposable personal income = personal income - government taxes + government transfers

Disposable income (disposable earning) in macroeconomics

The largest factor that contributes to economic output (or to the gross domestic product – GDP – see the GDP calculator) is personal consumption (in the United States, around 70 percent of the GDP comes from consumption). Since families essentially base their consumer spending decisions on their current available income, changes in disposable income can have a considerable impact on the state of the economy and thus on GDP growth (see GDP growth rate calculator).

To see how governments can influence the level of consumption through disposable earnings and, thus, economic performance, let's consider a real-world example.

The 2008 Financial Crisis and the ensuing Great Recession led to a mostly downward trend in the level of employment, leading to a decrease in the total income of the United States and other industrialized nations. As a result, the disposable income of families shrunk, leading to further lowered economic output through curtailed consumer spending.

There are various instruments in the policy repertoire to ameliorate any adverse force in a depressed economy. In the following section, only those policies which have a rather direct effect on disposable income will be outlined.

  • Tax cuts

    By reducing the tax burden on a family's budget, the government can directly increase disposable income through taxing policy. The United States did this in the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, giving a 600 dollars tax rebate to low and middle-income Americans to help stimulate their spending. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) also consisted of 237 billion dollars in tax incentives for individuals, but also 1.7 billion dollars were devoted to sales tax deductions from car purchases.

  • Government transfers

    By supporting those individuals who are most affected by the Financial Crisis (for example, through unemployment benefits), the government not only can help families meet their basic needs but also contribute to a faster economic recovery by improving the total level of disposable earnings. In the US, the Recovery Act included 82.2 billion dollars in aid to low-income workers, the unemployed, and retirees.

  • Government investment

    As money flows into the economy in the form of government purchases or investments, it is a form of income (for example, through creating new jobs). Therefore, the total income of a nation increases, which can, in turn, boost disposable income. The Recovery Act covered a near 400 billion dollars of government investment that were spent mainly on health care, education, and infrastructure.

Inflation may also have a considerable effect on the real value of your available income. If you are curious as to how, check out our salary inflation calculator to better educate yourself.

💡 You also might find useful our budget calculator.

Tibor Pál, PhD candidate
Personal income
Government taxes
Government transfers
Disposable Personal Income
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