Don't Let These 3 Social Security Surprises Ruin Your Retirement | Smart Change: Personal Finance

March 4, 2021

If Social Security is your only source of retirement income, or even your primary source, then you may be able to avoid taxes on it. But if you have outside income (money from a savings plan, investments, or rental income from a property you own), then you should expect the IRS to take a chunk of your benefits.

To see whether you'll pay federal taxes on Social Security, add up your provisional income, which is your non-Social Security income plus 50% of your annual benefit. Keep in mind that certain types of income, like Roth IRA withdrawals, don't count toward provisional income.

If your total falls between $25,000 and $34,000 and you're a single tax filer, or between $32,000 and $44,000 and you're married filing jointly, you could face taxes on up to 50% of your benefits. Beyond these thresholds, you could be looking at taxes on up to 85% of your benefits.

On top of federal taxes, you may be taxed on Social Security income at the state level. There are 13 states that tax benefits to different degrees.