If you collect Social Security benefits, you might have to pay federal income tax on part of those payments. These tips can help you determine if you 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.
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.
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