Gross-Up is a valuable tool used by employers to ensure fair and transparent compensation for employees. While it comes with its complexities and considerations, understanding its purpose and methods can empower employers and HR professionals to navigate payroll challenges effectively.

What Does Gross-Up Mean?

Gross-Up is a term used in payroll and compensation, referring to the process of increasing an employee's salary or wages to account for the taxes that will be withheld from their pay. 

Essentially, it's a way for employers to ensure that employees receive a predetermined net amount after taxes, regardless of the tax rates in their jurisdiction.

In most cases, employers only gross up one-time payments, but they may also use it to meet specific net salary requirements. 

Examples of Gross-Up

Let’s say Jane is offered a salary of £50,000 per year, but the employer wants to ensure that after taxes, she still receives £40,000 annually. To achieve this, the employer may gross up the salary by adding an amount to cover the anticipated taxes.

Another example is when John relocates and spends £3500. When the employer reimbursed the amount spent, John received £4500 to account for taxes. This way, he doesn’t owe any taxes on the reimbursement he received. 

Reasons Why Employers Often Gross-Up

Employers may choose to gross up employee compensation for various reasons, including:

  • Recruitment and Retention: Offering a grossed-up salary can make a job offer more attractive to potential candidates and can help retain valuable employees.
  • Tax Equalisation: In multinational companies where employees work in different countries with varying tax rates, grossing up ensures that all employees receive comparable after-tax compensation.
  • Compliance: Grossing up can help ensure compliance with labour laws and regulations regarding minimum wage or salary requirements after taxes.

Employers may also offer gross-up when:

  • An employee relocates and the employers pay for the expenses, including taxes 
  • They provide incentives and bonuses or other benefits, ensuring that the employees still receive the desired amount 
  • An employee leaves and is granted severance pay. Gross-up ensures they manage tax consequences

Pros and Cons of Gross-Up 

At a glance, it’s easy to only see the benefits of gross-up, but it has both benefits and downsides. 


  • Transparent Compensation: Grossing up provides clarity to employees regarding their take-home pay, fostering trust and satisfaction.
  • Competitive Advantage: Offering grossed-up compensation packages can give employers a competitive edge in attracting and retaining top talent.
  • Compliance: Helps ensure compliance with tax laws and regulations, minimising the risk of legal issues.


  • Administrative Burden: Calculating and managing gross-up can be complex and time-consuming for employers.
  • Cost: Grossing up salaries can increase overall labour costs for employers.
  • Tax Implications: Grossing up may have tax implications for both employers and employees, depending on the jurisdiction and specific circumstances.

Gross-Up Methods: How Do They Work?

Flat Method

In the flat method, a fixed percentage is added to the employee's salary to cover taxes. For example, if the tax rate is 20%, and the desired net pay is £40,000, the employer would add 20% of £40,000 (£8,000) to the employee's salary.

Supplemental Method

With this method, the employer calculates the taxes on the desired net pay and then adds that tax amount to the gross pay

For example, if an employee is bound to receive a bonus of £4,000 and all the taxes that apply to it totals 30%, then the employee would receive £5200 in total to account for the taxes. 


For both the flat and supplemental methods, the employer only covers the taxes of the underlying amounts (which, in our examples, are £40,000 and £5,000). 

Supplemental/Inverse Method

In the supplemental/inverse method, the employer covers for the taxes of the underlying amount PLUS the gross-up. However, it does not account the employee’s tax bracket, deductions, exemptions, and child credits. 

In the supplemental/inverse method, the first step is to subtract the tax rate from 1 to get the net percentage. For example, if the tax rate is 30%, then the calculation is 1 - 0.30 = 0.70 → this is our net percentage. 

After this, divide the desired net pay by the net percentage. Hence, if the desired net pay is £4,000, the computation would be £4,000/0.70=£5,714 → this is what the employer would pay in total. 

Marginal/Inverse Method

The marginal inverse method is similar to supplemental/inverse method, only it is more accurate because not only does it pay for the underlying AND gross-up, but it also considers the employee’s income and filing status

Hence, in many cases only Certified-Public Accountants (CPAs) or full-service relocation companies use this method.

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