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AARP's Social Security Q&A Tool

Do I have to pay federal taxes on my Social Security benefits?

En español | It depends on the amount of your total income. You may have to pay federal taxes on some of your benefits if you file a tax return as an individual and your “combined income” is more than $25,000. (Social Security defines combined income as adjusted gross income, plus nontaxable interest and half your Social Security benefit.) If you file a joint return with your spouse, you will have to pay taxes on some of the benefits if that figure is more than $32,000. As your family income goes up, so may the taxes on your benefits. But no matter how high your income is, 15 percent of your benefits will always be tax-free. Before you sign up for Social Security, you may wish to consult an accountant or other financial adviser to learn your options. You should also check to find out whether your state and local government tax benefits — many do not.

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