Are Social Security Benefits Taxable?


If taxpayers receive Social Security benefits, they may
have to pay federal income tax on part of those benefits.
These IRS tips will help taxpayers determine if they need
to do so.

Form SSA-1099. If taxpayers received Social Security
benefits in 2016, they should receive a Form SSA-1099,
Social Security Benefit Statement, showing the amount of
their benefits.

Only Social Security. If Social Security was a
taxpayer’s only income in 2016, their benefits may not be
taxable. They also may not need to file a federal income
tax return. If they get income from other sources, they may
have to pay taxes on some of their benefits.

Free File. Taxpayers may use IRS Free File to prepare
and e-file their tax returns for free. If they earned $64,000
or less, they can use brand-name software. The software
does the math for them, which helps avoid mistakes. If
taxpayers earned more, they can use Free File Fillable
Forms. This option uses electronic versions of IRS paper
forms. It’s best for people who are used to doing their own
taxes. Free File is available only by going to

Interactive Tax Tools. Visit and to use the
Interactive Tax Assistant tool.

Tax Formula. Here’s a quick way to find out if a
taxpayer must pay taxes on their Social Security benefits:
Add one-half of the Social Security income to all other
income, including tax-exempt interest. Then compare that
amount to the base amount for their filing status. If the total
is more than the base amount, some of their benefits may
be taxable.

Base Amounts. The three base amounts are:

• $25,000 – if taxpayers are single, head of household,
qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child or
married filing separately and lived apart from their spouse
for all of 2016

• $32,000 – if they are married filing jointly

• $0 – if they are married filing separately and lived with
their spouse at any time during the year

All taxpayers should keep a copy of their tax
return. Beginning in 2017, taxpayers using a software
product for the first time may need their Adjusted
Gross Income (AGI) amount from their prior-year
tax return to verify their identity. Taxpayers can
learn more about how to verify their identity and
electronically sign tax returns at Validating Your
Electronically Filed Tax Return.


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