Some of you have to pay federal income taxes on your Social Security benefits. This usually happens only if you have other substantial income in addition to your benefits (such as wages, self-employment, interest, dividends and other taxable income that must be reported on your tax return).
You will pay tax on only 85 percent of your Social Security benefits, based on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules. If you:
• file a federal tax return as an "individual" and your combined income* is
between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
• file a joint return, and you and your spouse have a combined income* that is
between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
• are married and file a separate tax return, you probably will pay taxes on your benefits.
If your income falls below the above limits, none of your Social Security will be taxed.
IMPORTANT NOTE: When deciding between investing in taxable or tax-exempt investments, keep in mind that tax-exempt interest is added back to income when determining how much of your Social Security benefits are taxable. So, if your tax-exempt interest causes your Social Security benefits to be taxable, this effectively lowers the after-tax yield of your investments—something you should consider when you make your investment decisions.