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At what age is Social Security no longer taxed in the US?

Social Security provides support to tens millions every year, but some recipients could be on the hook for income taxes on a portion of their benefits.

Social Security provides support to tens millions every year, but some recipients could be on the hook for income taxes on a portion of their benefits.
Kevin DietschAFP

Prior to 1984, Social Security benefits were not taxed. However, to kept the Trust Fund that supports the program solvent, bipartisan legislation was passed to tax a portion of payments to seniors citizens, surviving spouses and the disabled if they had income above certain thresholds.

At the onset, less than one in ten beneficiaries paid income tax on their benefits. But that percentage has risen over time since unlike benefits the thresholds were not indexed to inflation and in the intervening four decades no inflation adjustments have been made. This meant that as benefits rose, more recipients crossed over the thresholds. Now 56 percent of beneficiaries pay income tax on a portion of their benefits, sometimes as much as 85% if their total income exceeds upper thresholds.

There is no age at which you will no longer be taxed on Social Security payments. However once you are at full retirement age (between 65 and 67 years old, depending on your year of birth) your Social Security payments can no longer be withheld if, when combined with your other forms of income, they exceed the maximum threshold.

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The size of your annual Social Security entitlement continues to grow until you reach the age of 70, so you may want to consider delaying your claim for a few years if you intend to continue working past the normal retirement age.

How are Social Security payments taxed?

The tax rate for Social Security benefits varies based on a number of factors aside from just age; and the household income of recipients is the main deciding factor in taxation.Those thresholds are also dependent on the filing status of Social Security recipients.

Individuals with a Total Gross Income, including Social Security, of more than $25,000 will be taxed on up to 50% of their Social Security income. Couples who file jointly will begin being taxed when their total income exceeds $32,000.

Individuals earning more than $34,000, or couples with a combined gross income of at least $44,000, will be taxed on up to 85% of their Social Security benefits.

Typically it is only retirees, who have very little household income aside from their Social Security entitlement, who could be exempt from any form of taxation on the payments.

How is the Social Security tax rate calculated?

The rate of taxation levied on Social Security payments is similar to that of other forms of income. Filers must submit their adjusted gross income, which combines their salary, Social Security benefits and all other sources of taxable income.

If that total exceed the minimum threshold then at least 50% of your Social Security benefits will be considered taxable income and will be treated as such. The proportion of your total Social Security entitlement that is based on several factors, as mentioned above.