When it comes to retirement many Americans believe they can count on their full Social Security benefits as a core element of income. You can imagine the surprise at tax-time when some of these same benefits are returned to the Federal Government in the form of benefit reduction and taxation. Here is what you need to know.
1st: Calculate 1/2 of your annual Social Security benefit
2nd: Add the 1/2 benefit total to all your other estimated income. (Use income from all sources including tax exempt interest.)
3rd: Compare your calculated total to the base amount for the year. If it exceeds the base amount, some of your Social Security benefit may be taxed.
2013 Social Security Base Amounts:
$25,000: Single, Head of Household, Widow or Married Filing Separately:
$32,000: Married filing Joint
Note: To qualify as married filing separately, you must also be living apart for the entire year. The base amount if you lived together is $0. There is also a significant marriage penalty in the taxability of your Social Security benefits as the joint amount is only $32,000 instead of $50,000 (or 2 times the single "base" amount).
Joseph B. Matheson is a Certified Public Accountant with more than twenty-five years of public and private accounting experience. Mr. Matheson passed the CPA exam with one of the highest scores in the nation, garnering honors at both the state and national level. His knowledge and experience guarantees focus on the needs of businesses and high net worth individuals and providing litigation and forensic support to attorneys and litigants.
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