News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 15, 2010

Social Security: To tax or not tax: A SS question

By Brian Hewitt

TERRE HAUTE — When it comes to Social Security benefits, you may be wondering who must pay taxes on them and who does not. Let’s look at the numbers.

If you file a federal tax return as an “individual” and your total income is more than $25,000, then the answer for you is yes: you’ll have to pay federal taxes on your benefits. If you file a joint return and you and your spouse have a total income more than $32,000, you’ll be expected to pay federal taxes as well. If your taxable income is below those thresholds, there is no need to pay taxes on your Social Security benefits.

If you need to pay taxes on a portion of your benefits, you will need your SSA-1099. This form shows the total amount of benefits received in the previous year and is used to find out whether any benefits are subject to tax. You will need to submit it when you complete your federal income tax return.

You already should have received your SSA-1099 for tax year 2009 in the mail — they were automatically mailed to all beneficiaries by Jan. 31. If you receive Social Security and have not yet received a Form SSA-1099 for 2009, you can request a replacement at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices. Or you can call Social Security’s toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213 (TTY, 1-800-325-0778) and ask for a replacement SSA-1099 to be mailed to you.

If you would like more information about paying taxes on your Social Security benefits, visit www.irs.gov and read Publication Number 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits. You also can call the Internal Revenue Service toll-free at 1-800-829-3676 (TTY, 1-800-829-4059).