How Are Social Security Benefits Taxed?

Recently a reader asked:

I would like to know the breaking points for annual income that affects the percentage of social security that is taxable. example…low income only 15% is taxable.

Social Security is normally not taxable unless you earn over a certain amount. This lower amount is called the base amount and depends on your filing status. Single and Head of Household filers have a base of $25,000. Married Filing Jointly has a base of $32,000. If your provisional income (all worldwide income, including tax-exempt income, plus half of Social Security benefits) is lower than the base, you are not taxed on your benefits.

The next tier is at $34,000 for Single and HoH and $44,000 for MFJ. If you earn between the base and the next tier’s limit, then your 50% of your benefits are taxed.

If you earn more than the second tier, then 85% of your Social Security benefits are taxed.






4 responses to “How Are Social Security Benefits Taxed?”

  1. Franbruf

    No one over 65 should be taxed on his/her SS benefits.
    It is very socialistic and one of the best examples of double taxation of the same money. The “Gore Tax” should be repealed. Now!


  2. Fern

    You didn’t research this very well.

    “While you are working, your earnings will reduce your benefit amount ONLY UNTIL you reach your full retirement age.”

    Taken verbatim from the Social Security website. To determine your full retirement age, which is based on when you were born, visit

  3. retirehappy

    Fern: You are correct but I wasn’t talking about the amount you get out of Social Security, I was referring to the amount that is subject to income tax.

  4. can this be updated for 2009