Social Security Taxes: What to Expect and How to Reduce Your Bill
Social Security Taxes: What to Expect and How to Reduce Your Bill

Social Security Taxes: What to Expect and How to Reduce Your Bill


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There is a good chance that many Social Security recipients will pay more taxes on their benefits this year than this year earlier due to a confluence of events, a situation that may convince many of them to take steps to lower their tax bills in the future.

See: Social Security: When your provisional income can lead to 100% tax-free benefits
Find: Social Security: Beneficiaries should know about these two credits in this tax season

Social benefits are taxed based on provisional income and designated income limits. The more income you earn, the more you have to pay in taxes. Many retirees are facing a higher tax bill this year due to the amount of provisional income they earned in 2021.

As GOBankingRates has previously reported, provisional income is determined by adding the total total half of your social benefits, your tax-free interest and other non-social security items (such as jobs or investments) that make up your adjusted gross income.

For single tax registrars, social security benefits are not taxed if your provisional income is less than $ 25,000. It rises to $ 32,000 if you are married and file a joint return. Up to half of your social security benefits may be taxable if your provisional income is $ 25,000 to $ 34,000 for single files, or $ 32,000 to $ 44,000 for shared files. Above these income levels, up to 85% of your benefits may be taxable.

If your provisional income in 2021 pushed you above the thresholds, you will face a larger than normal tax bill this year. That could be the case with Americans retiring in 2021 as part of the Great Recession and then starting to demand social security right away. In this case, the earned income they earned last year will be included in their provisional income, which may move them above the threshold.

You may also pay more in Social Security taxes if you delay your required minimum distributions (RMDs) by 2020. As MarketWatch reported, federal COVID-19 emergency aid packages allowed Americans to waive their RMDs by 2020. That’s the amount you must withdraw from your retirement account each year if you have not already started deducting these balances by the age of 72. If you delayed your 2020 RMD, you probably had to withdraw more money in 2021, which could bring you over the threshold.

About 40% of Social Security recipients pay taxes on their benefits, according to the Social Security Administration. The Social Security Trustees’ report estimates that about $ 10.6 billion more in taxes will be paid on benefits this year compared to last year.

What can you do to lower your social security tax in the future? A good first step is to start planning ahead – including thinking about the sources of income you can expect over the next five to 10 years and how those sources may affect your preliminary income thresholds.

“Early planning is key,” Rose Swanger, a certified financial planner and rector of Advise Financial, told MarketWatch.

One way to lower your tax bill is to choose a qualified charity distribution or QCD that lets you provide your required minimum charities for charity. QCDs are excluded from taxable income.

Learn: How an early social security requirement will affect spouses’ benefits
Explore: How to acquire your first social security check

Another option is to convert your retirement savings into Roth accounts. Payments from Roth 401 (k) plans or IRAs is not considered part of preliminary income estimates, said Michelle Gessner – a certified financial planner and founder of Gessner Wealth Strategies. Before making a conversion, however, it is a good idea to consult with a qualified financial planner or tax intermediary who can determine how much can be converted without pushing you into a higher tax framework.

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About the author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who has previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a BA in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting won awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A North Carolina native who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” became number two in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.


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