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Are Social Security Benefits Taxable?

Updated: Jan 20, 2019



“Is my Social Security Benefits taxable?”

There are volumes of product-driven information on this subject on the internet and social media to the point that we are drowning in information and starving for knowledge. Actually, believe it or not, there is user-friendly information at the Internal Revenue Service website at www.IRS.gov. This information is updated as needed further enhances its reliability for tax planning for seniors.


Quick Rule of Thumb: ‘Here’s a quick way to find out if a taxpayer must pay taxes on their Social Security benefits: Add one-half of the Social Security income to all other income, including tax-exempt interest. Then compare that amount to the base amount for their filing status. If the total is more than the base amount, some of their benefits may be taxable.’ Source ~ Internal Revenue Service


The Video: Is Social Security Taxable? ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIzmSqHrHlM ) provides clarity if you need more than the rule of thumb.


So while you are here…let us take a deeper dive.

If taxpayers receive Social Security benefits, they may have to pay federal income tax on part of those benefits. These IRS tips will help taxpayers determine if they need to do so.

Form SSA-1099: If taxpayers received Social Security benefits, they should receive a Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement, showing the amount of their benefits. If the taxpayer does not receive this Form SSA-1099, they can sign in at 'My Social Security gov' at https://www.ssa.gov/ and get a replacement SSA-1099 for tax season.


Only Social Security: If Social Security was a taxpayer’s only income in 2016, their benefits may not be taxable. They also may not need to file a federal income tax return. If they get income from other sources, they may have to pay taxes on some of their benefits.


Again, the quick way to find out if a taxpayer must pay taxes on their Social Security benefits is to add one-half of the Social Security income to all other income, including tax-exempt interest. Then compare that amount to the base amount for their filing status. If the total is more than the base amount, some of their benefits may be taxable.


Base Amounts. The three base amounts currently are:

  • $25,000 – if taxpayers are single, head of household, qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child or married filing separately and lived apart from their spouse for all of 2016

  • $32,000 – if they are married filing jointly

  • $0 – if they are married filing separately and lived with their spouse at any time during the year

Keep Copies

All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax returns. The IRS recommends that taxpayers keep a copy of tax returns for at least three years. Doing so can help taxpayers prepare future tax returns or even assist with amending a prior year’s return.


Source: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/are-social-security-benefits-taxable