Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Is social security taxable income?

A portion of your social security benefits may be taxable if your total income plus one-half of your net social security benefits exceeds a base amount for your filing status. Net benefits are reported on box 5 of Form SSA-1099. If the only source of income is Social Security, then none of the benefits are taxable and the taxpayer does not have to file a federal income tax return.

The base amount is
  • $25,000 if your filing status is single, head of household, or qualifying widower
  • $25,000 if MFS if you lived apart from your spouse the entire year
  • $32,000 if MFJ
  • $0 if MFS if you lived with your spouse at any time during the year *
Use the Social Security Benefits Worksheet to determine the taxable amount. Total social security benefits are reported on Form 1040 line 20a while the taxable amount is reported on line 20b.

Couple of other notes:
  • If a child receives social security benefits, the monthly check from the government may be in the parent's name but these benefits belong to the child and should not be reported on the parent's tax return.
  • Do not include social security benefits when determining filing requirements and dependency unless * above applies.
For additional information, review IRS Publication 915.

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