Taxability of Social Security Benefits

The IRS says that whether your Social Security benefits are taxable depends on your total income and marital status. Form SSA-1099, which Social Security recipients receive by January 31, shows your total benefits, but determining your taxable benefits requires putting pencil to paper.

Generally, if Social Security benefits were your only income, your benefits are not taxable and you probably do not need to file a federal income tax return. If you received Social Security benefits plus other income, the answer to how much, if any, is taxable can be found in the worksheet in the Form 1040 instruction book.

For a quick computation, add one-half of your Social Security benefits to all your other income, including tax-exempt interest. If this amount is greater than the base amount for your filing status, a part of your benefits will be taxable.

The 2002 base amounts are:

  • $25,000 for single, head of household, or qualifying widow/widower with a dependent child
  • $25,000 for married individuals filing separately who did not live with their spouses at any time during the year
  • $32,000 for married couples filing jointly
  • $0 for married persons filing separately who lived together

If your benefits are taxable, you can avoid estimated tax payments and minimize your tax bill next year by having federal income tax withheld from your benefits. Simply complete Form W-4V, “Voluntary Withholding Request,” and file it with the Social Security Administration.

For additional information on the taxability of Social Security benefits, see IRS Publication 915, “Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits.” Both Publication 915 and Form W-4V can be downloaded from the IRS Web site at IRS.gov.


This daily Tax Tip has been provided by the IRS

Note: These tips are provided to help trigger ideas on ways to minimize your tax burden, not as a substitute for professional advice. There is no "one-size-fits-all" answer - each taxpayer's situation is different. You should contact your tax preparer to determine together how this may affect your unique situation.

You may like these other stories...

School tax breaks get House support as Democrats objectRichard Rubin of Bloomberg reported that the House of Representatives on Thursday voted to expand and simplify tax breaks for education as Republicans continue to pass...
Many senior US tax professionals believe that a streamlined audit process will be the top benefit resulting from the IRS Transfer Pricing Audit Roadmap, a new toolkit organized around a notional 24-month audit timeline,...
Tax accounting to be simplified for money-market fundsThe US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted 3-2 on Wednesday for sweeping changes to institutional money-market funds, Emily Chasan, senior editor of...

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Jul 31
In this session Excel expert David Ringstrom helps beginners get up to speed in Microsoft Excel. However, even experienced Excel users will learn some new tricks, particularly when David discusses under-utilized aspects of Excel.
Aug 5
This webcast will focus on accounting and disclosure policies for various types of consolidations and business combinations.
Aug 20
In this session we'll review best practices for how to generate interest in your firm’s services.
Aug 21
Meet budgets and client expectations using project management skills geared toward the unique challenges faced by CPAs. Kristen Rampe will share how knowing the keys to structuring and executing a successful project can make the difference between success and repeated failures.