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Social Security Benefits Aren't Taxing, but They May Be Taxable

May 28, 2016 by Robert L. Heller

“Will my Social Security benefits be taxed?” This is one of the questions we hear most often from our clients once they begin receiving Social Security benefits.

There are many factors that determine if your benefits are going to be taxed. It is important to remember that no one pays federal income tax on more than 85% of his or her Social Security benefits based on the IRS rules.

Let’s look at and highlight the most common reasons that these benefits may be taxed:

  • Filing a federal tax return as an individual and your combined income (adjusted gross income + nontaxable interest + 1/2 of your Social Security benefits) is between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50% of your benefits. More than $34,000, up to 85% of your benefits may be taxable.
  • Filing a joint return when you and your spouse have a combined income that is between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50% of your benefits. More than $44,000, up to 85% of your benefits may be taxable.
  • Filing a separate return when you are married will probably result in paying taxes on your benefits.

Each year you should receive a Social Security Benefit Statement (Form SSA-1009) showing the amount of benefits you received in the previous year. You can use this benefit statement when you complete your federal income tax return to find out if your benefits are subject to tax. Another resource is Publication 915, published by the IRS annually. It provided worksheets that you can use to determine your taxable income.

While this is not all of the information, it should give you a starting point when considering the taxation of your Social Security benefits. Please feel free to contact us directly to answer any additional questions you may have about the taxation of Social Security benefits.

Remember the IRS filing deadline this year was April 18, 2016!

About the Author

Robert L. Heller
Robert L. Heller has practiced law in Ohio for nearly 40 years, devoting his entire career to helping disabled people in the Mahoning Valley to pursue needed benefits. A native of Warren, Ohio, Robert earned his undergraduate degree from Miami University of Ohio and his law degree from the University of Toledo College of Law. He also studied public administration at American University in Washington, D.C. He is admitted to practice in Ohio state courts, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio and Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals as well as a member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimant Representatives (NOSSCR).

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