Social security benefits include monthly retirement, survivor and disability benefits. They don't include supplemental security income (SSI) payments, which aren't taxable. The net amount of social security benefits that you receive from the Social Security Administration is reported in Box 5 of Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement, and you report that amount on your income tax return (Form 1040, line 20a or Form 1040A, Line 14a). The taxable portion of the benefits that's included in your income and used to calculate your income tax liability depends on the total amount of your income and benefits for the taxable year. You report the taxable portion of your social security benefits on Form 1040, line 20b or Form 1040A, line 14b.
To find out whether any of your benefits may be taxable, compare the base amount for your filing status with the total of:
- One-half of your benefits; plus
- All of your other income, including tax-exempt interest.
The base amount for your filing status is:
- $25,000 if you're single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er),
- $25,000 if you're married filing separately and lived apart from your spouse for the entire year,
- $32,000 if you're married filing jointly,
- $0 if you're married filing separately and lived with your spouse at any time during the tax year.
If you're married and file a joint return, you and your spouse must combine your incomes and social security benefits when figuring the taxable portion of your benefits. Even if your spouse didn't receive any benefits, you must add your spouse's income to yours when figuring on a joint return if any of your benefits are taxable.
You can figure the taxable amount of the benefits in Are My Social Security or Railroad Retirement Tier I Benefits Taxable?, on a worksheet in the Instructions for Form 1040, Instructions for Form 1040A, or in Publication 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits.