If I receive Social Security benefits, do I need to file a tax return in 2024?


The IRS has announced that January 29 is the start of tax season and the first official day the IRS begins accepting and processing tax returns. As a Social Security recipient, you may have to file taxes this year. I will explain below.

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Your age, marital status, and income you receive outside of Social Security benefits all affect whether you need to file a tax return with the IRS. Additionally, even if you do not need to file a return, it is recommended that you do so if you want to receive a refundable tax credit or a refund of the income tax you paid during the year.

This story is part of 2024 taxesCNET covers the best tax software, tax tips, and everything else you need to file your return and track your refund.

We can help you find out if you need to file taxes in 2024. Learn more about the maximum amount of Social Security benefits you can receive each month and the amount of COLA increase you should receive.

How can I find out if my Social Security benefits are taxable?

Your Social Security benefits may be taxable if the sum of one-half of your Social Security benefits plus your other income is greater than your filing status threshold (the threshold for determining your tax liability).

  • $25,000 for single filers, heads of households, or eligible surviving spouses.
  • Married people who separate from their spouse in 2023 and file a separation notification will receive $25,000.
  • $32,000 for married couples filing jointly.
  • $0 for married individuals filing separately who live with their spouse.

Other forms of income include wages, self-employment, interest, dividends, and other reported taxable income.

One way to understand whether your benefits are taxable is to consider your gross income, or your total income before taxes.

You must file a return for the 2024 tax year.

  • If you are an unmarried senior citizen age 65 or older and have a gross income of $14,700 or more.
  • If you are filing a joint return with your spouse who is also 65 years of age or older and has a combined income of more than $28,700.
  • If you file a joint return with a spouse under age 65 and your combined income exceeds $27,300.

Another way to understand whether your Social Security benefits are taxable is to look at your total income, which is your adjusted gross income + tax-free interest + half of your Social Security benefits.

  • The SSA says if you're a single taxpayer with a combined income of $25,000 to $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50% of your benefits.
  • If you are a single taxpayer and your combined income exceeds $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 85% of your benefits.
  • If you file jointly and your combined income is between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50% of your benefits.
  • If you file jointly and your combined income is more than $44,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 85% of your benefits.
  • If you are married, filing separately, and did not live with your spouse last year, your Social Security benefits will be taxed as if you were a single filer.
  • If you are married and live with your spouse but file separately, you will likely have to pay taxes on your benefits.

Report the taxable portion of your Social Security benefits on line 6b of Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR.

Do I need to file my 2023 taxes even if I don't have one?

The biggest reason to file a tax return even if you don't have to is to get a tax refund.

If your federal tax income was withheld from your paycheck or you made estimated tax payments in 2023, you may want to file your tax return this year. You can receive a refund of the excess tax withheld.

Another situation in which filing is recommended is if you qualify for refundable tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, or Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. Earned income tax credits are fully refundable. In other words, if there is no tax liability, the money will be applied to your tax refund.

How do I find out my Social Security benefits for 2023?

The Social Security Administration will send you a Social Security Benefit Statement by mail or online in January, which will disclose your benefits for the previous year. The information in your statement ultimately provides the income you disclose when you file your tax return.

For more information about Social Security and tax season, see Why you should create an online IRS account before tax season arrives.



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