Gross income is the total, verifiable income of a household before expenses, debts and taxes have been taken away. This figure is used to help determine how much of a mortgage loan home buyers will be able to qualify for. Gross income can be stated as a monthly or yearly amount. Yearly gross figures can be obtained from federal W2 tax forms, while monthly gross can be obtained from a recent pay statement. Mortgage providers use the gross income figure to make sure that home buyers are not taking on too much debt to purchase a home and will be able to afford their monthly mortgage payments. In most states, a monthly mortgage payment cannot exceed fifty percent of a household's gross monthly income. Exact qualification terms may vary depending on a number of factors including loan type, location and other household debts.