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How Are My Social Security Benefits Taxed?

By Sarah Foster

A previous blog article discussed whether or not your Social Security benefits would be taxed and discussed the circumstances under which your benefits would be completely non-taxable. If however, you do not fall into this category, how will your benefits be taxed?

If you provisional income (provisional income is your total worldwide income, including tax-exempt income, plus half of your Social Security benefits) is between the base amount and the additional amount (see below), then half of your Social Security benefits over the base amount are taxable.

If your provisional income is over the additional amount, then $4,500 (or $6,000 if Married Filing Jointly) plus 85% of your Social Security benefits over the additional amount are taxable.

The taxable portion of your Social Security benefits cannot exceed 85% of your total benefits.

Filing Status Base Additional
Single $25,000 $34,000
Head of Household $25,000 $34,000
Married Filing Jointly $32,000 $44,000
Married Filing Separately $0*
Qualifying Widow(er) $25,000 $34,000

* Married couples who file separate tax returns have two different methods for computing the taxable portion of their Social Security benefits: 1. For married couples who lived in the same household at any time during the year, their base amount is zero. Up to 85% of their benefits will be subject to tax; 2. For married couple who lived apart from each other for the entire year, they can use a base amount of $25,000 and the additional income amount of $34,000 for computing the taxable portion of their benefits.

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