Are Your Social Security Benefits Taxable?

Your Social Security benefits may be taxable. This may be the case only if you have other substantial income (such as wages, self-employment, interest, dividends and other taxable income that must be reported on your return) in addition to your benefits. It depends on how much income you report to the IRS. Your income and filing status affect whether you must pay taxes on your Social Security.

If Social Security is your only source of income, your benefits may not be taxable. You also may not need to file a federal income tax return.

If you do have to pay taxes on your Social Security benefits, you can make quarterly estimated tax payments to the IRS or choose to have federal taxes withheld from your benefits.

Each January you will receive a Social Security Benefit Statement (Form SSA-1099) showing the amount of benefits you received in the previous year.

A quick way to find out if any of your benefits may be taxable is to first add one-half of your Social Security benefits to all of your other income, including tax-exempt interest. This is known as your “provisional income.” Next compare this total to the base amounts below. 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 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 live together at any time during the year

If that income is between $25,000 and $34,000 on a single return or between $32,000 and $44,000 on a joint return, up to 50% of your benefits can be taxed. The rest is tax free.

If your provisional income is more than $34,000 on a single return or $44,000 on a joint return, it’s likely that 85% of your benefits will be taxed.

If you have questions about this or other tax matters, please call us today at 813-514-2920.

John S. Wood, C.P.A., P.A. is located at 15310 Amberly Drive, Suite 250, Tampa, FL 33647 and concentrates in individual and business tax preparation and planning. We can be reached at 813-514-2920. Please also visit our website is