People often ask, “Do I have to pay taxes on Social Security benefits?”
Things get a bit more complicated with SSDI benefits. Here is the answer directly from Social Security:
Question: I receive Social Security disability benefits. Do I have to pay income tax on these benefits?
Answer: You will have to pay federal taxes on your benefits if you file a federal tax return as an individual and your total income is more than $25,000. If you file a joint return, you will have to pay taxes if you and your spouse have a total income of more than $32,000.
Social Security has no authority to withhold state or local taxes from your benefit. Many states and local authorities do not tax Social Security benefits. You should contact your state or local taxing authority for more information.
For more information, call the Internal Revenue Service toll-free at 1-800-829-3676 and ask for Publication No. 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits.
If you wish to have federal taxes withheld from your check, read: Withholding income tax from your Social Security benefits.
02/15/10 Update: Keep in mind that the law (including tax law) is subject to change. I encourage readers to check the Social Security site and discuss the taxability of benefits with their tax preparer.
- Gordon Gates has a great post on this topic here.
- The National Organization of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives has a quick information page about Social Security and taxes here.
01/14/11 Update: updating answer based on change on Social Security’s FAQ page.
01/04/12 Updated to discuss SSI benefits.