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Can Taxes Be Withheld From My Benefits?

Yes, but only if you request it

En español | Q. I recently began getting my Social Security benefits, and I've noticed that no taxes are being withheld. Why don't they withhold taxes? And can I change this?

Social Security for Dummies: The easy way to get a handle on it

A. The reason that no federal taxes are being withheld from your monthly checks is that withholding is voluntary. In other words, no taxes will be withheld unless you ask for it.

A decision on whether to withhold should be based on your own tax situation. Keep in mind that Social Security benefits are only taxable if your total income exceeds certain levels.

If you want to proceed, you should fill out IRS Form W-4V. It will give you four choices as to how much money to withhold: 7 percent, 10 percent, 15 percent or 25 percent. You can get the form online or by calling Social Security at 800-772-1213 (TTY 800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Sign it and return it to your local Social Security office by mail or in person. For more information about the form, you can also contact the Internal Revenue Service at 800-829-1040 or go to the website.

In case you're also wondering about state taxes, Social Security does not have the authority to withhold state or local taxes. In any event, many states and localities do not tax Social Security benefits. For more information, contact your state or local taxing agency or see Kiplinger's "State-by-State Guide to Taxes on Retirees."

Stan Hinden, a former columnist for The Washington Post, wrote How to Retire Happy: The 12 Most Important Decisions You Must Make Before You Retire. Have a question? Check out the Social Security Mailbox archive. If you don't find your answer there, send an email to the Social Security Mailbox.

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