Q & A: Will my Social Security benefits be taxable?

Q & A: Will my Social Security benefits be taxable?

Q: I retired last year, but my spouse continues to work.  This will be our first tax season with Social Security benefit income.  Will my Social Security benefits be taxable?

A:  If you’re receiving Social Security income— but your spouse is still working — a portion of your Social Security benefits is likely to be subject to taxation.  Here are some tips to help you figure out if your benefits will be taxable:

  • Watch the mail for Form SSA-1099:  If you received Social Security in 2017, then you should receive a Form SSA-1099, the Social Security benefit statement showing the amount that you received during 2017.  You can find a copy online by setting up an account at mySocialSecurity.com.
  • Here’s the quick tax formula:  Add one-half of your Social Security income to all other income, including any tax-exempt interest. (Yes, tax exempt!)  Compare that amount to the following base amounts.  If your modified adjusted gross income is higher than $32,000 (married filing jointly) or ($25,000) single, you will likely pay taxes on a portion of your Social Security benefits.
  • IRS Interactive tax tool: You can learn if your any of your benefits are taxable here — Interactive Tax Assistant Tool.
  • IRS Publication 915: Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits.
  • Video:  Are My Social Security Benefits Taxable?
  • Free help filing your taxes:  Many areas offer free assistance to help older taxpayers file their returns.  Check with your local senior center, library or community college to learn about programs in your area.
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