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Do I Have to Pay Taxes on My Social Security Benefits?

If you have started receiving Social Security benefits, or if you are applying to receive benefits, you may be wondering if you will need to pay taxes on the benefits you receive from the Social Security Administration (SSA). For the most part, these benefits are tax-free, as to qualify to receive benefits you must not be able to work for a year or more as well as meet their income eligibility requirements.  While most benefit recipients will not pay taxes, there are situations where you may need to pay federal income taxes on your Social Security benefits.

When Will I Have to Pay Taxes on My Benefits?

To determine if you will need to pay income tax on your benefits, you will need to assess the total tax-exempt income that you receive during the year as well as the total amount of benefits you receive. It is important to note that the benefits that you will calculate do not include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as those benefits are not taxable. If your total benefits exceed the below limits, you will need to pay taxes on a portion of your benefits.

  • If you file taxes Single – You will need to pay taxes if your combined income is more than $25,000
  • If you file taxes as Married filing Jointly – You will need to pay taxes if your combined income is more than $32,000

If your combined income is less than the above limits, you will not need to pay any income tax on the Social Security benefits you received that year.

How Much Will I Be Taxed on My Benefits if I Make More Than the Combined Income Limits?

If your combined income is more than the limits listed above, you will need to pay taxes on a portion of the social security benefits that you receive. How much you will be taxed is determined by how much over the income limits you fall.

If you are an individual that files your tax returns as Single you will fall into one of two brackets.

  • If your combined income is between $25,000 and $34,000, you will pay an income tax on a maximum of 50% of your Social Security benefits
  • If your combined income is above $34,000 you will pay a maximum of 85% income tax on your Social Security benefits

Example: Michael works a part-time job making $20,000 a year and receives $15,000 in Social Security benefits. His combined income would be a total of $27,500 ($20,000 salary + $15,000×50%) and will need to pay taxes on 50% of the benefits that he received.

If you file your tax returns with your spouse, your benefits tax rate is determined by the brackets below

  • If your combined income for you and your spouse is between $32,000 and $44,000, you will be taxed a maximum of 50% of the Social Security benefits that you received
  • If you combined income for you and your spouse is above $44,000, you will be taxed a maximum of 85% of the Social Security Benefits that you received

How Can I Determine What My Exact Combined Income Is for the Year and How Much I Will Be Taxed?

If you receive benefits, assessing your combined income, as well as your tax rate, can be a bit overwhelming. It is a complicated process, and you will need to have a thorough understanding of what is considered taxable and tax-exempt income. The IRS provides worksheets and in-depth explanations in Publication 915 to help you better navigate the process for filing taxes with your Social Security benefits. You can learn more on the IRS website or by speaking with a local tax attorney to further discuss your options and the best plan for your specific situation. Can Help

Are you considering filing to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits and are not sure where to start? If so, complete our free evaluation to be connected directly with a local disability attorney that can help you on your journey to receiving benefits. An experienced disability attorney can not only help you through the application process but can also help answer any questions you may have about how benefits will affect your future, including taxes. 

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