Are your Social Security Benefits Taxable?

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Social security benefits include monthly retirement, survivor, and disability benefits. If you received Social security benefits in 2015, you should receive a Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement, showing the amount.

Note: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments are not taxable.

If Social Security was your only source of income in 2015 your benefits might not be taxable. You also may not need to file a federal income tax return this year; however, if you receive income from other sources, then you may have to pay taxes on some of your benefits.

Your income and filing status affect whether you must pay taxes on your Social Security. An easy method of determining whether any of your benefits might be taxable is to add one-half of your Social Security benefits to all of your other income, including any tax-exempt interest.

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. In 2015, 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 lived together at any time during the year

Your taxable benefits and modified adjusted gross income are figured on a worksheet in the Form 1040A or Form 1040 Instruction booklet. Please call if you need assistance figuring this out.

Retired Abroad?

Retirement income is generally not taxed by other countries. As a U.S. citizen retiring abroad who receives Social Security, for instance, you may owe U.S. taxes on that income, but may not be liable for tax in the country where you’re spending your retirement years.

If Social Security is your only income, then your benefits may not be taxable, and you may not need to file a federal income tax return. If you receive Social Security, you should receive a Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement, showing the amount of your benefits.

However, if you receive income from other sources as well, from a part-time job or self-employment (either U.S. or the country you’ve retired to), you may have to pay U.S. taxes on some of your benefits.

You may also be required to report and pay taxes on any income earned in the country where you retired. Each country is different, so consult a local tax professional or one who specializes in expat tax services.

State Taxes

Some states tax social security income as well: Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia.

Note: Even if you retire abroad, you may still owe state taxes–unless you established residency in a no-tax state before you moved overseas. Also, some states honor the provisions of U.S. tax treaties; however, some states do not, therefore it is prudent to consult a tax professional.

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