What Is Supplemental Pay? Meaning, Tax, Types, and Examples

Wajiha Danish | March 16 2023

What Is Supplemental Pay?

Supplemental pay is any form of compensation, paid to employees apart from their regular wages or salary. That includes bonuses, overtime pay, shift differentials, commissions, and other forms of additional compensation.

Employers often use supplemental pay to motivate and reward employees for their dedication. For example, a company might offer bonuses to employees who meet or exceed certain performance targets or achieve specific goals.

In some cases, supplemental pay may be required by law. For example, employers may be required to pay employees overtime for any hours worked beyond a certain number per week or to provide hazard pay for employees who work in dangerous conditions.

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Difference Between Supplemental Pay and Regular Wages

Supplemental pay is additional compensation beyond an employee’s regular wages or salary. This type of payment may include bonuses or other forms of compensation.

On the other hand, regular wages refer to the base salary or hourly rate that an employee earns for performing their regular job duties. The employer typically sets these wages and pays regularly, such as weekly, biweekly, or monthly.

The key difference between supplemental and regular wages is that supplemental pay is not part of an employee’s regular, ongoing compensation. Instead, it is typically a one-time or periodic payment tied to specific performance metrics, such as meeting sales goals or working overtime.

Additionally, supplemental pay may be subject to different tax treatment than regular wages, depending on the payment type and the employer’s payroll policies. For example, bonuses and commissions may be subject to different tax withholding rules than regular wages and may be taxed at a higher rate.

What Is Supplemental Pay Tax?

Supplemental pay tax is imposed on certain types of income that are considered “supplemental” or “extra” to an individual’s regular wages or salary.

Supplemental pay is usually subject to higher tax rates than regular wages, and employers must withhold a certain percentage of this pay to cover the employee’s tax liability. This tax withholding is done using the IRS‘s supplemental wage rate, typically higher than the regular withholding rate.

In the United States, employers must withhold 22% of supplemental pay of less than $1 million and 37% of more than $1 million. These taxes go towards funding various government programs and services.

What Is A Supplemental Wage Tax?

Now that we know what supplemental pay tax is, let’s move one step forward to learn about what supplemental wage is.

The Internal Revenue Service requires employers to hold back taxes on supplemental wages at a flat rate of 22% for federal income tax. Employers may also be required to withhold state and local taxes, depending on the laws of their state or municipality.

Employers may sometimes combine supplemental wages with an employee’s regular wages and withhold taxes based on the total amount. Alternatively, they may withhold taxes on supplemental wages separately from regular wages.

It’s important to note that although supplemental wage taxes are withheld from an employee’s paycheck, they do not necessarily represent the final amount of taxes owed. At the end of the tax year, employees must file their annual tax return and may receive a refund if they overpaid or owe additional taxes if they underpaid.

Examples Of Supplemental Pay

Supplemental pay refers to compensation employees receive on top of their regular wages or salaries. Here are some examples of supplemental pay:

Overtime Pays  

Employees receive an extra payment when they work more than their regular hours. Typically, employers pay time-and-a-half for any hours worked beyond the standard 40-hour workweek.


Employers may offer bonuses to reward them for their hard work, achieving specific goals, or meeting targets. Bonuses can be in gift cards, cash, or other benefits.


The commission is a percentage of sales that employees receive as additional pay. Commission-based jobs are common in sales, marketing, and other customer-facing roles.

Shift Differential Pay

Some companies offer additional pay to employees outside of regular business hours, such as night shifts or weekends.

Hazard Pays

Employers may offer hazard pay to employees in dangerous or high-risk jobs, such as healthcare workers during a pandemic or firefighters.

Performance Pays

Some companies offer performance-based pay, where employees receive additional pay based on performance evaluations, achievements, or merit-based promotions.


Profit-sharing is supplemental pay where employees receive a share of the company’s profits as additional compensation.

Stock Options

Some companies offer stock options to their employees as a form of supplemental pay. Stock options allow employees to purchase company stock at a discounted price, which can be sold later for a profit.

Tuition Reimbursement

Some companies offer tuition reimbursement programs that help employees pay for their education. It can be a valuable supplemental pay for employees wanting to advance their careers.

In A Nutshell…

In conclusion, supplemental pay is an important tool employers can use to incentivize their employees and recognize their contributions to the company. Whether it takes the form of bonuses, commissions, or other forms of compensation, supplemental pay can help boost employee morale, increase productivity, and improve retention rates.

However, it is important for employers to carefully consider their supplemental pay policies and ensure that they are fair, transparent, and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. By doing so, employers can create a positive and rewarding environment that retains top talent, ultimately leading to increased business success and growth.

Read Also: What You Need To Know About Net Payment Terms

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Author Bio

Wajiha is a Brampton-based CPA, CGA, and Controller with 17+ years of experience in the financial services industry. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Applied Accounting from Oxford Brookes University and is a Chartered Certified Accountant. Wajiha spearheads Monily as its Director and is a leader who excels in helping teams achieve excellence. She talks about business financial health, innovative accounting, and all things finances.