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IRS.gov Website
Publication 915
taxmap/pubs/p915-002.htm#en_us_publink100097889

How Much Is Taxable?(p6)

rule
If part of your benefits are taxable, how much is taxable depends on the total amount of your benefits and other income. Generally, the higher that total amount, the greater the taxable part of your benefits.
taxmap/pubs/p915-002.htm#en_us_publink100097890

Maximum taxable part.(p6)

rule
Generally, up to 50% of your benefits will be taxable. However, up to 85% of your benefits can be taxable if either of the following situations applies to you.
taxmap/pubs/p915-002.htm#en_us_publink100097891

Which worksheet to use.(p6)

rule
A worksheet you can use to figure your taxable benefits is in the instructions for your Form 1040 or 1040A. You can use either that worksheet or Worksheet 1 in this publication, unless any of the following situations applies to you.
  1. You contributed to a traditional individual retirement arrangement (IRA) and you or your spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work. In this situation you must use the special worksheets in Appendix B of Publication 590 to figure both your IRA deduction and your taxable benefits.
  2. Situation (1) does not apply and you take an exclusion for interest from qualified U.S. savings bonds (Form 8815), for adoption benefits (Form 8839), for foreign earned income or housing (Form 2555 or Form 2555-EZ), or for income earned in American Samoa (Form 4563) or Puerto Rico by bona fide residents. In this situation, you must use Worksheet 1 in this publication to figure your taxable benefits.
  3. You received a lump-sum payment for an earlier year. In this situation, also complete Worksheet 2 or 3 and Worksheet 4 in this publication. See Lump-Sum Election, later.
taxmap/pubs/p915-002.htm#en_us_publink100097892

Examples(p6)

rule
The following pages contain a few examples you can use as a guide to figure the taxable part of your benefits.
Example 1.
 George White is single and files Form 1040 for 2010. In addition to receiving social security payments, he received a fully taxable pension of $18,600, wages from a part-time job of $9,400, and taxable interest income of $990, for a total of $28,990. He received a Form SSA-1099 in January 2011 that shows his net social security benefits of $5,980 in box 5.
To figure his taxable benefits, George completes Worksheet 1, shown below. On line 20a of his Form 1040, George
enters his net benefits of $5,980. On line 20b, he enters his taxable benefits of $2,990.
Filled-in Worksheet 1.  Figuring Your Taxable Benefits                 Keep for your records
Before you begin:
  • If you are married filing separately and you lived apart from your spouse for all of 2010, enter "D" to the right of the word "benefits" on Form 1040, line 20a, or Form 1040A, line 14a.
  • Do not use this worksheet if you repaid benefits in 2010 and your total repayments (box 4 of Forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099) were more than your gross benefits for 2010 (box 3 of Forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099). None of your benefits are taxable for 2010. For more information, see Repayments More Than Gross Benefits.
  • If you are filing Form 8815, Exclusion of Interest From Series EE and I U.S. Savings Bonds Issued After 1989, do not include the amount from line 8a of Form 1040 or Form 1040A on line 3 of this worksheet. Instead, include the amount from Schedule B (Form 1040A or 1040), line 2.
pencil
 1.Enter the total amount from box 5 of ALL your Forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099. Also enter this amount on Form 1040, line 20a, or Form 1040A, line 14a  1.$5,980    
 2.Enter one-half of line 1 2. 2,990 
 3.Combine the amounts from:
Form 1040: Lines 7, 8a, 9a, 10 through 14, 15b, 16b, 17 through 19, and 21
Form 1040A: Lines 7, 8a, 9a, 10, 11b, 12b, and 13
 3.28,990 
 4.Enter the amount, if any, from Form 1040 or 1040A, line 8b 4. 
 5.Enter the total of any exclusions/adjustments for:
  • Adoption benefits (Form 8839, line 26),
  • Foreign earned income or housing (Form 2555, lines 45 and 50, or Form 2555-EZ, line 18), and
  • Certain income of bona fide residents of American Samoa (Form 4563, line 15) or Puerto Rico
 5.-0- 
 6.Combine lines 2, 3, 4, and 5 6.31,980 
 7.Form 1040 filers: Enter the amounts from Form 1040, lines 23 through 32, and any write-in adjustments you entered on the dotted line next to line 36.
Form 1040A filers: Enter the amounts from Form 1040A, lines 16 and 17
 7.-0- 
 8.Is the amount on line 7 less than the amount on line 6?    
  No.stop None of your social security benefits are taxable. Enter -0- on Form 1040, line 20b, or Form 1040A, line 14b.    
  Yes. Subtract line 7 from line 6 8.31,980 
 9.If you are:
  • Married filing jointly, enter $32,000
  • Single, head of household, qualifying widow(er), or married filing separately and you lived apart from your spouse for all of 2010, enter $25,000
 9.25,000 
 Note. If you are married filing separately and you lived with your spouse at any time in 2010, skip lines 9 through 16; multiply line 8 by 85% (.85) and enter the result on line 17. Then go to line 18.     
10.Is the amount on line 9 less than the amount on line 8?    
  No.stop None of your benefits are taxable. Enter -0- on Form 1040, line 20b, or on Form 1040A, line 14b. If you are married filing separately and you lived apart from your spouse for all of 2010, be sure you entered "D" to the right of the word "benefits" on Form 1040, line 20a, or on Form 1040A, line 14a.     
  Yes. Subtract line 9 from line 810. 6,980 
11.Enter $12,000 if married filing jointly; $9,000 if single, head of household, qualifying widow(er), or married filing separately and you lived apart from your spouse for all of 2010 11. 9,000 
12.Subtract line 11 from line 10. If zero or less, enter -0-.12.-0- 
13.Enter the smaller of line 10 or line 11 13. 6,980 
14.Enter one-half of line 1314. 3,490 
15.Enter the smaller of line 2 or line 14 15. 2,990 
16.Multiply line 12 by 85% (.85). If line 12 is zero, enter -0-16.-0- 
17.Add lines 15 and 1617. 2,990 
18.Multiply line 1 by 85% (.85)18. 5,083 
19.Taxable benefits. Enter the smaller of line 17 or line 18. Also enter this amount on Form 1040, line 20b, or Form 1040A, line 14b 19.$2,990 
 
taxtip

If you received a lump-sum payment in 2010 that was for an earlier year, also complete Worksheet 2 or 3 and Worksheet 4 to see if you can report a lower taxable benefit.
    
Example 2.
 Ray and Alice Hopkins file a joint return on Form 1040A for 2010. Ray is retired and received a fully taxable pension of $15,500. He also received social security benefits and his Form SSA-1099 for 2010 shows net benefits of $5,600 in box 5. Alice worked during the year and had wages of $14,000. She made a deductible payment to her IRA account of $1,000. Ray and Alice have two savings accounts with a total of $250 in taxable interest income. They complete Worksheet 1 (below) and find that none of Ray's benefits are taxable. On line 3 of the worksheet, they enter $29,750 ($15,500 + $14,000 + $250). On Form 1040A, they enter $5,600 on line 14a and -0- on line 14b.
Filled-in Worksheet 1.  Figuring Your Taxable Benefits                 Keep for your records
Before you begin:
  • If you are married filing separately and you lived apart from your spouse for all of 2010, enter "D" to the right of the word "benefits" on Form 1040, line 20a, or Form 1040A, line 14a.
  • Do not use this worksheet if you repaid benefits in 2010 and your total repayments (box 4 of Forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099) were more than your gross benefits for 2010 (box 3 of Forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099). None of your benefits are taxable for 2010. For more information, see Repayments More Than Gross Benefits.
  • If you are filing Form 8815, Exclusion of Interest From Series EE and I U.S. Savings Bonds Issued After 1989, do not include the amount from line 8a of Form 1040 or Form 1040A on line 3 of this worksheet. Instead, include the amount from Schedule B (Form 1040A or 1040), line 2.
pencil
 1.Enter the total amount from box 5 of ALL your Forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099. Also enter this amount on Form 1040, line 20a, or Form 1040A, line 14a  1.$5,600    
 2.Enter one-half of line 1 2.2,800 
 3.Combine the amounts from:
Form 1040: Lines 7, 8a, 9a, 10 through 14, 15b, 16b, 17 through 19, and 21
Form 1040A: Lines 7, 8a, 9a, 10, 11b, 12b, and 13
 3.29,750 
 4.Enter the amount, if any, from Form 1040 or 1040A, line 8b 4. 
 5.Enter the total of any exclusions/adjustments for:
  • Adoption benefits (Form 8839, line 26),
  • Foreign earned income or housing (Form 2555, lines 45 and 50, or Form 2555-EZ, line 18), and
  • Certain income of bona fide residents of American Samoa (Form 4563, line 15) or Puerto Rico
 5.-0- 
 6.Combine lines 2, 3, 4, and 5 6.32,550 
 7.Form 1040 filers: Enter the amounts from Form 1040, lines 23 through 32, and any write-in adjustments you entered on the dotted line next to line 36.
Form 1040A filers: Enter the amounts from Form 1040A, lines 16 and 17
 7.1,000 
 8.Is the amount on line 7 less than the amount on line 6?    
  No.stop None of your social security benefits are taxable. Enter -0- on Form 1040, line 20b, or Form 1040A, line 14b.    
  Yes. Subtract line 7 from line 6 8.31,550 
 9.If you are:
  • Married filing jointly, enter $32,000
  • Single, head of household, qualifying widow(er), or married filing separately and you lived apart from your spouse for all of 2010, enter $25,000
 9.32,000 
 Note. If you are married filing separately and you lived with your spouse at any time in 2010, skip lines 9 through 16; multiply line 8 by 85% (.85) and enter the result on line 17. Then go to line 18.     
10.Is the amount on line 9 less than the amount on line 8?    
  No.stop None of your benefits are taxable. Enter -0- on Form 1040, line 20b, or on Form 1040A, line 14b. If you are married filing separately and you lived apart from your spouse for all of 2010, be sure you entered "D" to the right of the word "benefits" on Form 1040, line 20a, or on Form 1040A, line 14a.     
  Yes. Subtract line 9 from line 810. 
11.Enter $12,000 if married filing jointly; $9,000 if single, head of household, qualifying widow(er), or married filing separately and you lived apart from your spouse for all of 2010 11. 
12.Subtract line 11 from line 10. If zero or less, enter -0-.12. 
13.Enter the smaller of line 10 or line 11 13. 
14.Enter one-half of line 1314. 
15.Enter the smaller of line 2 or line 14 15. 
16.Multiply line 12 by 85% (.85). If line 12 is zero, enter -0-16. 
17.Add lines 15 and 1617. 
18.Multiply line 1 by 85% (.85)18. 
19.Taxable benefits. Enter the smaller of line 17 or line 18. Also enter this amount on Form 1040, line 20b, or Form 1040A, line 14b 19. 
 
taxtip

If you received a lump-sum payment in 2010 that was for an earlier year, also complete Worksheet 2 or 3 and Worksheet 4 to see if you can report a lower taxable benefit.
    
Example 3.
 Joe and Betty Johnson file a joint return on Form 1040 for 2010. Joe is a retired railroad worker and in 2010 received the social security equivalent benefit (SSEB) portion of tier 1 railroad retirement benefits. Joe's Form RRB-1099 shows $10,000 in box 5. Betty is a retired government worker and received a fully taxable pension of $38,000. They had $2,300 in taxable interest income plus interest of $200 on a qualified U.S. savings bond. The savings bond interest qualified for the exclusion. They figure their taxable benefits by completing Worksheet 1 below. Because they have qualified U.S. savings bond interest, they follow the note at the beginning of the worksheet and use the amount from line 2 of their Schedule B (Form 1040A or 1040) on line 3 of the worksheet instead of the amount from line 8a of their Form 1040. On line 3 of the worksheet, they enter $40,500 ($38,000 + $2,500). More than 50% of Joe's net benefits are taxable because the income on line 8 of the worksheet ($45,500) is more than $44,000. (See Maximum taxable part under How Much Is Taxable earlier.) Joe and Betty enter $10,000 on Form 1040, line 20a, and $6,275 on Form 1040, line 20b.
Filled-in Worksheet 1.  Figuring Your Taxable Benefits                 Keep for your records
Before you begin:
  • If you are married filing separately and you lived apart from your spouse for all of 2010, enter "D" to the right of the word "benefits" on Form 1040, line 20a, or Form 1040A, line 14a.
  • Do not use this worksheet if you repaid benefits in 2010 and your total repayments (box 4 of Forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099) were more than your gross benefits for 2010 (box 3 of Forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099). None of your benefits are taxable for 2010. For more information, see Repayments More Than Gross Benefits.
  • If you are filing Form 8815, Exclusion of Interest From Series EE and I U.S. Savings Bonds Issued After 1989, do not include the amount from line 8a of Form 1040 or Form 1040A on line 3 of this worksheet. Instead, include the amount from Schedule B (Form 1040A or 1040), line 2.
pencil
 1.Enter the total amount from box 5 of ALL your Forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099. Also enter this amount on Form 1040, line 20a, or Form 1040A, line 14a  1.$10,000    
 2.Enter one-half of line 1 2.5,000 
 3.Combine the amounts from:
Form 1040: Lines 7, 8a, 9a, 10 through 14, 15b, 16b, 17 through 19, and 21
Form 1040A: Lines 7, 8a, 9a, 10, 11b, 12b, and 13
 3.40,500 
 4.Enter the amount, if any, from Form 1040 or 1040A, line 8b 4. 
 5.Enter the total of any exclusions/adjustments for:
  • Adoption benefits (Form 8839, line 26),
  • Foreign earned income or housing (Form 2555, lines 45 and 50, or Form 2555-EZ, line 18), and
  • Certain income of bona fide residents of American Samoa (Form 4563, line 15) or Puerto Rico
 5.-0- 
 6.Combine lines 2, 3, 4, and 5 6.45,500 
 7.Form 1040 filers: Enter the amounts from Form 1040, lines 23 through 32, and any write-in adjustments you entered on the dotted line next to line 36.
Form 1040A filers: Enter the amounts from Form 1040A, lines 16 and 17
 7.-0- 
 8.Is the amount on line 7 less than the amount on line 6?    
  No.stop None of your social security benefits are taxable. Enter -0- on Form 1040, line 20b, or Form 1040A, line 14b.    
  Yes. Subtract line 7 from line 6 8.45,500 
 9.If you are:
  • Married filing jointly, enter $32,000
  • Single, head of household, qualifying widow(er), or married filing separately and you lived apart from your spouse for all of 2010, enter $25,000
 9.32,000 
 Note. If you are married filing separately and you lived with your spouse at any time in 2010, skip lines 9 through 16; multiply line 8 by 85% (.85) and enter the result on line 17. Then go to line 18.     
10.Is the amount on line 9 less than the amount on line 8?    
  No.stop None of your benefits are taxable. Enter -0- on Form 1040, line 20b, or on Form 1040A, line 14b. If you are married filing separately and you lived apart from your spouse for all of 2010, be sure you entered "D" to the right of the word "benefits" on Form 1040, line 20a, or on Form 1040A, line 14a.     
  Yes. Subtract line 9 from line 810.13,500 
11.Enter $12,000 if married filing jointly; $9,000 if single, head of household, qualifying widow(er), or married filing separately and you lived apart from your spouse for all of 2010 11.12,000 
12.Subtract line 11 from line 10. If zero or less, enter -0-.12.1,500 
13.Enter the smaller of line 10 or line 11 13.12,000 
14.Enter one-half of line 1314.6,000 
15.Enter the smaller of line 2 or line 14 15.5,000 
16.Multiply line 12 by 85% (.85). If line 12 is zero, enter -0-16.1,275 
17.Add lines 15 and 1617.6,275 
18.Multiply line 1 by 85% (.85)18.8,500 
19.Taxable benefits. Enter the smaller of line 17 or line 18. Also enter this amount on Form 1040, line 20b, or Form 1040A, line 14b 19.$6,275 
 
taxtip

If you received a lump-sum payment in 2010 that was for an earlier year, also complete Worksheet 2 or 3 and Worksheet 4 to see if you can report a lower taxable benefit.
    
Example 4.
 Bill and Eileen Jones are married and live together, but file separate Form 1040 returns for 2010. Bill earned $8,000 during 2010. The only other income he had for the year was $4,000 net social security benefits (box 5 of his Form SSA-1099). Bill figures his taxable benefits by completing Worksheet 1 below. He must include 85% of his social security benefits in his taxable income because he is married filing separately and lived with his spouse during 2010. See How Much Is Taxable earlier. Bill enters $4,000 on his Form 1040, line 20a, and $3,400 on Form 1040, line 20b.
Filled-in Worksheet 1.  Figuring Your Taxable Benefits                 Keep for your records
Before you begin:
  • If you are married filing separately and you lived apart from your spouse for all of 2010, enter "D" to the right of the word "benefits" on Form 1040, line 20a, or Form 1040A, line 14a.
  • Do not use this worksheet if you repaid benefits in 2010 and your total repayments (box 4 of Forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099) were more than your gross benefits for 2010 (box 3 of Forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099). None of your benefits are taxable for 2010. For more information, see Repayments More Than Gross Benefits.
  • If you are filing Form 8815, Exclusion of Interest From Series EE and I U.S. Savings Bonds Issued After 1989, do not include the amount from line 8a of Form 1040 or Form 1040A on line 3 of this worksheet. Instead, include the amount from Schedule B (Form 1040A or 1040), line 2.
pencil
 1.Enter the total amount from box 5 of ALL your Forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099. Also enter this amount on Form 1040, line 20a, or Form 1040A, line 14a  1.$4,000    
 2.Enter one-half of line 1 2.2,000 
 3.Combine the amounts from:
Form 1040: Lines 7, 8a, 9a, 10 through 14, 15b, 16b, 17 through 19, and 21
Form 1040A: Lines 7, 8a, 9a, 10, 11b, 12b, and 13
 3.8,000 
 4.Enter the amount, if any, from Form 1040 or 1040A, line 8b 4. 
 5.Enter the total of any exclusions/adjustments for:
  • Adoption benefits (Form 8839, line 26),
  • Foreign earned income or housing (Form 2555, lines 45 and 50, or Form 2555-EZ, line 18), and
  • Certain income of bona fide residents of American Samoa (Form 4563, line 15) or Puerto Rico
 5.-0- 
 6.Combine lines 2, 3, 4, and 5 6.10,000 
 7.Form 1040 filers: Enter the amounts from Form 1040, lines 23 through 32, and any write-in adjustments you entered on the dotted line next to line 36.
Form 1040A filers: Enter the amounts from Form 1040A, lines 16 and 17
 7.-0- 
 8.Is the amount on line 7 less than the amount on line 6?    
  No.stop None of your social security benefits are taxable. Enter -0- on Form 1040, line 20b, or Form 1040A, line 14b.    
  Yes. Subtract line 7 from line 6 8.10,000 
 9.If you are:
  • Married filing jointly, enter $32,000
  • Single, head of household, qualifying widow(er), or married filing separately and you lived apart from your spouse for all of 2010, enter $25,000
 9. 
 Note. If you are married filing separately and you lived with your spouse at any time in 2010, skip lines 9 through 16; multiply line 8 by 85% (.85) and enter the result on line 17. Then go to line 18.     
10.Is the amount on line 9 less than the amount on line 8?    
  No.stop None of your benefits are taxable. Enter -0- on Form 1040, line 20b, or on Form 1040A, line 14b. If you are married filing separately and you lived apart from your spouse for all of 2010, be sure you entered "D" to the right of the word "benefits" on Form 1040, line 20a, or on Form 1040A, line 14a.     
  Yes. Subtract line 9 from line 810. 
11.Enter $12,000 if married filing jointly; $9,000 if single, head of household, qualifying widow(er), or married filing separately and you lived apart from your spouse for all of 2010 11. 
12.Subtract line 11 from line 10. If zero or less, enter -0-.12. 
13.Enter the smaller of line 10 or line 11 13. 
14.Enter one-half of line 1314. 
15.Enter the smaller of line 2 or line 14 15. 
16.Multiply line 12 by 85% (.85). If line 12 is zero, enter -0-16. 
17.Add lines 15 and 1617.8,500 
18.Multiply line 1 by 85% (.85)18.3,400 
19.Taxable benefits. Enter the smaller of line 17 or line 18. Also enter this amount on Form 1040, line 20b, or Form 1040A, line 14b 19.$3,400 
 
taxtip

If you received a lump-sum payment in 2010 that was for an earlier year, also complete Worksheet 2 or 3 and Worksheet 4 to see if you can report a lower taxable benefit.