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Base Salary Vs. Total Compensation

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Salaried employees are paid a fixed amount each payday. This amount is called "base salary." Depending on your employment agreement, your base salary may not represent your total compensation. This would happen if you receive benefits or other types of payments in addition to your base salary.

Base Salary Requirements

If you are exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act, your base salary cannot be less than $455 per week and your employer does not have to pay you overtime if you work more than 40 hours per week. The state may set a different minimum salary requirement for exempt employees. Your employer must pay you your full base salary each pay period unless a permissible deduction applies. It can also require that you work a certain number of hours per week. If you are not exempt, your base salary cannot be lower than the federal minimum hourly wage or the state-mandated amount. This amount is contingent on you working a certain number of hours per week. In this case, the FLSA requires that your employer pay you overtime for work hours exceeding 40 per week.

Compensation Types

Your total compensation is your base salary plus other forms of compensation that you receive. It includes incentive payments, such as commissions and bonuses, and fringe benefits, such as paid vacation and sick time, commuter benefits and health and life insurance. Retirement benefits, tuition and relocation reimbursement, dependent care and flexible spending accounts, company vehicle and cell phone, stock options and employee discounts are regarded as compensation.

Compensation Package Value

The value of a compensation package varies by employer and employee. Executive and managerial employees tend to receive higher compensation packages than regular employees. According to a May 2013 article published by "Tampa Bay Business Journal," out of Tampa Bay’s five colleges, the president of St. Petersburg College received the highest annual compensation package of $449,031 for fiscal year 2012 to 2013. The base salary of that amount was $330,000. Of all the Florida colleges included in the reported survey, the president of Miami Dade College had the highest earnings of $630,157, which includes base salary of $367,731. In contrast, for example, a regular employee might receive base salary of $35,000 and additional compensation of $17,000, which comes to total compensation of $45,000.

Sales Employees

Some sales employees are paid strictly on a commission basis. Others receive base salary plus commission, base salary and bonus, or straight salary. In either case, your total compensation would depend on the sales agreement you have with your employer plus benefits and additional payments that you receive .

Taxation Rules

Your base salary is taxable. However, not all forms of compensation are subject to taxation. For example, small gifts and awards and some tuition and moving expense reimbursements may not be taxable. If your total compensation is taxable, your employer includes the amount in the appropriate taxable wages boxes of your annual W-2. If some of it is taxable, your employer puts only the taxable portions in the respective taxable wages boxes.


Grace Ferguson has been writing professionally since 2009. With 10 years of experience in employee benefits and payroll administration, Ferguson has written extensively on topics relating to employment and finance. A research writer as well, she has been published in The Sage Encyclopedia and Mission Bell Media.

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