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Seniors

March 16, 2009

Social security: Beware of tax pointers

TERRE HAUTE — Shakespeare wrote “Beware the Ides of March,” but that was before tax day found a resting place on April 15 of each year. Let us help you “be aware” of some Social Security tax tips by answering some of the most common questions we receive about taxes and Social Security.

Are Social Security benefits taxable? Sometimes. About one third of beneficiaries pay taxes on their Social Security. If your total income, including Social Security and all of your other taxable income, is $25,000 or more, you’ll need to pay federal taxes on your benefits. That amount is $32,000 for married couples filing a joint return.

Will I get a tax form for my Social Security benefits? Yes, and you should have already received it. Social Security Benefit Statements (Form SSA-1099) for tax year 2008 were mailed to beneficiaries and should have been received by January 31, 2009. If you receive Social Security and haven’t received your 1099, you can request one at secure.ssa.gov/apps6z/i1099.

We had a baby in 2008. Do we need a Social Security number for our taxes? Yes. Most parents apply for their baby’s Social Security number while still in the hospital at the same time they apply for the birth certificate. But if you didn’t, you’ll need to apply for your child’s Social Security number in order to claim the child as a dependent on your tax return. You’ll also need it if you ever apply for government benefits on behalf of the child or your family.

I changed my name when I got married last year. Do I need to report it to Social Security? Yes. If you’ve legally changed your name due to marriage, divorce, court order or for any other reason, make sure you change your name with Social Security. Make sure you change your name with your employer as well. If you change with one source but not the other, it could cause your earnings to be improperly recorded. You can learn more about Social Security numbers and how to change your name in Social Security’s records at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

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