Social Security Benefits
If you receive social security benefits, you may have to pay taxes on part of those benefits.
The new tax law didn’t make any changes to how your social security benefits are taxed.
If you receive social security benefits, you may have to pay taxes on part of those benefits. Social security benefits include monthly retirement, survivor and disability benefits. They don’t include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments, which are not taxable.
The net amount of social security benefits that you received during the year is reported in Box 5 of IRS Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement. You report that amount on your IRS Form 1040, line 20a. The taxable portion of those benefits, if any, is reported on line 20b.
To determine whether you must pay taxes on your benefits, compare the following amounts:
1. 50 percent of your social security benefits, plus modified gross adjusted income (including tax-exempt income), against
2. The “base amount” associated with your filing status:
- $25,000 for single, head of household, qualifying widow(er), and married filing separately and lived apart from your spouse for all the tax year; or
- $32,000 for married filing jointly; or
- $0 for married filing separately and lived with your spouse at any time during the tax year.
- If the base amount equals or is greater than the amount in (1), then you don’t have to pay taxes on any of the benefits. But if the base amount is less than the amount in (1), then generally up to 50 percent (or up to 85 percent under certain situations) of your benefits are taxable.
Use this interactive online test or Worksheet 1 on Publication 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits to find out what portion of your benefits are taxable.
The new tax law didn’t change how your social security benefits are taxed.
How will this affect me?
Bob received $5,800 in social security benefits during 2018. Social security was the only source of Bob’s income this year. Bob is single, so his base amount is $25,000. His social security benefits aren’t taxable because one-half of his benefits is less than his base amount of $25,000.
Bob and Ivy filed a joint return in 2018. Bob is retired and received $6,000 in social security benefits and a fully taxable pension of $16,000. Ivy received $3,000 in social security benefits and $25,000 in wages.
One-half of Bob and Ivy’s benefits plus their other income equals $45,500 (one-half of $9,000 plus $41,000 other income), which is more than the base amount of $32,000. Bob and Ivy must therefore pay taxes on some of their social security benefits.
Using the IRS interactive online test, they determined that $5,775 or approximately 64.17 percent of their $9,000 social security benefits should be reported as taxable income.