Just because you paid a payroll tax during your working years to fund Social Security doesn’t mean you’re done once you retire.
Retirees may know that they will pay federal taxes on their Social Security benefits if their total income exceeds certain amounts. But few of them may realize that some states also will try to take a cut. Social Security benefits include monthly retirement, survivor and disability benefits.
The good news is fewer than a dozen states tax Social Security benefits, so chances are good you won’t get hit. While each state has different rules on what or how they will tax your Social Security money, age and income usually determine if you pay. It’s best to check with your state’s rules, but here are general guidelines on what you can expect:
Which states tax Social Security benefits?
States that tax benefits include:
Note: There are some gray areas that could make this list slightly shorter or longer. Though technically some states like New Mexico tax Social Security, most residents won’t be paying the tax. In 2022, Social Security income in that state is fully deductible for residents with adjusted gross income below $100,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a couple filing jointly.
In West Virginia (which we didn’t include on the list but technically could have been, too), the tax was phased out, with last year being the first year without it for residents with adjusted gross income below $50,000 for single taxpayers and $100,000 for couples filing jointly.
More state taxes to watch:State taxes can be complex if you choose to work in a different state. Here’s what to know.
State inheritance taxes:Is there a federal inheritance tax? Here’s how much inherited money is taxed state-by-state.
How are states taxing Social Security?
Methods vary widely so check your state’s laws, but these are generally the ways states will tax Social Security:
- Age based. For example, Coloradans under 65 may owe taxes on Social Security benefits but older people generally don’t.
- Income based. For example, Missouri taxes Social Security benefits only if your income tops $85,000, or $100,000 for married couples, and New Mexico only with income above $100,000 for married couples filing jointly, surviving spouses and heads of household with more than $150,000, and to married couples filing separately with more than $75,000 in income.
- Taxable income includes Social Security benefits. Minnesota and Utah follow federal rules to determine how much Social Security income is taxable: none for people with incomes below $25,000 for a single filer and $32,000 for a couple filing jointly, and up to 85% at higher income levels. Each though, offers either a deduction or credit to help offset the blow.
Delaying Social Security:Earning a paycheck could stop your Social Security benefits. But that could be a good thing.
Can I avoid taxes on Social Security?
The best way to avoid taxes on Social Security benefits is to limit your income by investing with a Roth IRA while saving. Roth IRA withdrawals aren’t counted as taxable income. They are tax-free.
You can also hope your state eliminates its tax on Social Security benefits, as has been the trend. West Virginia phased out its tax, with last year being the first year without it for residents with adjusted gross income below $50,000 for single taxpayers and $100,000 for couples filing jointly. Missouri has introduced a bill to eliminate the tax there that could go into effect next year if it passes.
Early Social Security:Retirement considerations: 3 benefits to claiming Social Security early
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Medora Lee is a money, markets, and personal finance reporter at USA TODAY. You can reach her at email@example.com and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter for personal finance tips and business news every Monday through Friday morning.