Social Security income or equivalent railroad retirement benefit amounts you received may or may not be taxable, depending on other income you or your spouse received in the tax year.
When Benefits Are Taxable
If you received no other income during the year, it is likely your benefits will not be taxable.
If you did receive other income, your benefits will be taxed if one-half of your benefits plus all other income, including tax-exempt interest, exceeds the base amount for your filing status. The base amounts are:
- $25,000 if your filing status is single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er)
- $25,000 if your filing status is married filing separately and you lived apart from your spouse all of the tax year
- $32,000 if your filing status is married filing jointly
- $0 if your filing status is married filing separately and you lived with your spouse at any time during the tax year
If your filing status is married filing jointly, you must include benefits and income received by both you and your spouse when determining whether the benefits are taxable.
If the benefits are deemed taxable they must be included in the gross income of the person who has the legal right to receive the benefits. If both you and your child receive benefits, and the check for your child's portion is made out to you, you do not include the benefits in your portion when determining if any amount is taxable. The child's portion must be added to the child's other income to determine if the benefits are taxable to your child.
How Much Is Taxable?
Generally up to 50% of benefits that are deemed taxable are subject to tax. However, up to 85% of your benefits are taxable if:
- The total of one-half of your benefits and all other income is more than $34,000, or $44,000 if your filing status is married filing jointly.
- Your filing status is married filing separately and you lived with your spouse at any time during the tax year.
Social Security benefits are reported on Form SSA-1099.
Railroad retirement benefits are reported on Form RRB-1099.
For more information, see IRS Publication 915.