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For all persons, INCBUS reports the total income they received from their business or practice during the current calendar year. Using the reported income information, annual income amounts were then edited and imputed for every record on the full-year file. Please refer to the IPUMS user note on Income Data in MEPS for more information on the collection, editing (including top- and bottom-coding), and imputation of income variables in MEPS, as well as changes to the target population for income data collection over time. Users may also be interested in the data quality flag, QINCBUS, which reports the editing methods used for INCBUS. Please review the Comparability tab for information on changes to what types of business income are included in INCBUS over time.

If the business was shared, persons were instructed to include only the amount that would be considered their portion. If respondents needed more information about what types of income to report as farm or nonfarm business income, they were provided with the additional guidance for farm business income: "Include income or loss associated with being the sole proprietor of a farm. Farm business costs and expenses are deductible from farm gross business receipts in arriving at farm net profit or loss. Gains or losses from these sources are calculated on Schedule F." For nonfarm business income, respondents were provided with the additional guidance: "Include income or loss associated with being the sole proprietor of a non-farm business, including self-employed members of a profession. Business costs and expenses are deductible from gross receipts or gross sales in arriving at net profit or loss. Compensation of the sole proprietor is taxable income and, therefore, not allowed as a business deduction in computing net income. The net gain or loss is computed on Schedule C or C-EZ."

Information on the IPUMS defined-universe for this variable 

Users may wish to note that, while IPUMS defines the universe for this variable as all persons, certain persons were explicitly targeted to answer questions about specific income sources. In addition to the target population of persons who were asked specifically about business income, all persons in the household were eligible to list additional income from "other" sources, which includes income from sources previously asked about in the survey (such as business income). It is unclear if business income reported as an "other" income source is counted in business income or "other" income. Because all persons could technically report business income via the "other" income questionnaire item, IPUMS staff report the universe for INCBUS as being "All Persons." Users may also wish to note that in the original public use MEPS data files, no income variables have cases explicitly coded as out of universe; both persons who directly report earning zero dollars of income from a source and persons who are not explicitly asked about that income source have values of zero.


INCBUS is a 9-digit numeric variable with 2 implied decimals. That is, a value of 012345678 should be interpreted as 123456.78. The command files delivered with IPUMS extracts automatically divide INCBUS by 100, so no further adjustment is needed.

9999999.96: Not in Universe
9999999.97: Unknown-refused
9999999.98: Unknown-not ascertained
9999999.99: Unknown-don't know


Prior to 2002, INCBUS does not include farm income. In 2002 and later, INCBUS includes both farm and non-farm business income.

While all persons could report business income regardless of age and tax filing status if they reported it as an "other" income source, certain persons were explicitly asked questions about business income. The persons specifically targeted to answer these questions changes over time, with an expansion of the target population beginning in 2002. For more information on how income data were collected by MEPS and changes to the target population for these questions over time, please see the IPUMS user note on Income Data in MEPS.

Beginning to 1999, persons could only report income in full dollar amounts. Prior to 1999, persons could report income in dollars and cents.


  • 1996-2021: All persons.


  • 1996-2021