Some taxpayers must include up to 85% of their Social Security benefits in taxable
income, while others find that their benefits are not taxable at all. If Social
Security is your only source of income, your benefits probably won't be taxable. In
fact, you may not even need to file a federal income tax return. If you get income
from other sources, however, you may have to pay taxes on at least a portion of your
Social Security benefits. Your income and filing status will also affect whether you
must pay taxes on your Social Security benefits.
A quick way to find out if any of your benefits may be taxable is to add half of your
Social Security benefits to all your other income, including any tax-exempt interest.
Next, compare this total to the following base amounts. If your total is more than
the base amount for your filing status, then some of your benefits may be taxable.
The three base amounts are:
- $25,000 for single, head of household, qualifying widow or widower with a
dependent child, or married individuals filing separately and who did not live
with their spouse at any time during the year.
- $32,000 for married couples filing jointly.
- $0 for married persons filing separately who lived together at any time during
To avoid tax time surprises, Social Security recipients can request that federal
income tax be withheld from their benefit payments. Withholding is voluntary and can
be initiated by completing IRS Form W-4V ("Voluntary Withholding Request"),
requesting to have 7%, 10%, 15%, or 25% (those are the only choices) withheld for
federal income tax, and submitting the form to the local Social Security
Administration office. Voluntary withholding can be stopped by completing a new Form
This publication is distributed with the understanding that the author, publisher and
distributor are not rendering legal, accounting or other professional advice or
opinions on specific facts or matters, and, accordingly, assume no liability
whatsoever in connection with its use. The information contained in this newsletter
was not intended or written to be used and cannot be used for the purpose of (1)
avoiding tax-related penalties prescribed by the Internal Revenue Code or (2)
promoting or marketing any tax-related matter addressed herein. © 2014