Is social security benefits taxable?

Although people may be intolerable, the fact is that social security benefits may be taxable. In general, if your only income comes from social insurance, your benefits may not be taxed and you may not need to file a tax return. However, if you have a source of income in addition to social security, you may be required to pay taxes on your benefits. Other sources of income include wages, self-employment income, interest and dividends, or pension income. Fortunately, the IRS provides some guidance to determine if your social security benefits are taxable.


If you receive social insurance, you should automatically receive a copy of the SSA-1099 form in January each year. This table shows the total amount of benefits you received in the previous year, which you need when filing your tax. The IRS provides a list of seven factors to help you determine if your benefits are taxable. The following is a list of things you can access from the IRS website:

  • How much (if any) your social security benefits are taxable. It  actually depends on the total income of you as well as marital status.
  • Generally speaking, if social security benefits are the only benefit of you, and of course your benefits are not taxable. That is, you do not need to file any federal income tax return.
  • If you earn income from other sources, your benefits will not be taxed unless your revised total income exceeds the basic amount of your application status.


Your taxable benefits and adjusted total income are calculated in the worksheet of the manual described in Form 1040A or Form 1040. You can make the following quick calculations to determine if certain benefits are taxable: First, add half of the total social security benefits you receive to all other income, except for any tax-exempt interest and other income. Then, compare this total to the base amount of your archive status. If the total exceeds your basic amount, some of your benefits may be taxed.


The basic amount is:


  • $32,000 for a joint application by a married couple,
  • Single, head of household, eligible widow/widower with dependent children or married individual who does not live with the spouse at any time of the year, $25,000; or
  • The cost of a separate declaration for a married person living together during the year is $0.


For more information on the taxability of social security benefits, please see IRS publication 915, Social Security and equivalent railway retirement benefits. Publication No. 915 is available on website. Or you may call 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).


If you find that you have to pay taxes on your social security benefits, you can choose to have social security withholding federal taxes when you apply for benefits. You don't need to do this, but you may find it easier than quarterly payments. If you have received benefits and want them to start withholding taxes, you can complete the W-4V form from the IRS. This form can also be used to stop or change the withholding. Call the US Internal Revenue Service toll-free at 1-800-829-3676 to apply for a W-4V form and apply for a voluntary withholding. After completing the form, you will need to select the amount to be withheld. You will get the following options: 7%, 10%, 15% or 25%. You can only choose from these percentages and you will not be able to choose a fixed dollar amount.
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