Does the Federal Government Tax Social Security

The Federal Government partially taxes Social Security benefits for some individuals and couples. Whether or not benefits are taxable depends on factors like total income, filing status, and the amount of benefits received. If your “Combined Income” – which includes half of your Social Security benefits, all other income (wages, interest, dividends, etc.), and non-taxable interest – exceeds certain thresholds, a portion of your Social Security benefits may be subject to income tax. The thresholds vary based on filing status, but generally, single filers with Combined Incomes above $25,000 and married couples filing jointly with Combined Incomes above $32,000 may have some benefits taxed. It’s important to note that the taxation of Social Security benefits is complex and can vary depending on individual circumstances, so consulting with a tax professional or using the IRS’s online calculators for more personalized guidance is recommended.

Sources of Social Security Funding

Social Security is a federal program that provides retirement, disability, and survivors’ benefits. Social Security was introduced as a form of social insurance in the United States in 1935, under the Social Security Act, to help workers save for their retirement.

  • Payroll Taxes: The primary source of Social Security funding comes from payroll taxes, which are withheld from employees’ paychecks and matched by their employers. These taxes are split into two categories:
    • Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI): This tax funds retirement and survivor benefits, as well as disability benefits for workers who become disabled before retirement age.
    • Medicare: This tax funds the Medicare program, which provides health insurance to people aged 65 and older, as well as to people with certain disabilities.
  • Interest Income: Social Security also earns interest on its trust fund investments. This interest income helps to supplement the revenue from payroll taxes.
  • General Revenue: In some years, Social Security has received funding from the federal government’s general revenue. However, this is a relatively small source of funding and is not expected to continue in the long term.

The Social Security Trust Fund is invested in Treasury securities and other low-risk investments. The interest earned on these investments helps to ensure the long-term solvency of the program.

SourcePercentage of Funding
Payroll Taxes (OASDI)86.2%
Payroll Taxes (Medicare)12.8%
Interest Income0.8%
General Revenue0.2%

Does the Federal Government Tax Social Security?

Payroll Tax on Earnings

Yes, the federal government taxes Social Security on earnings up to a taxable maximum amount, which is adjusted each year to account for inflation. The tax rate for Social Security is 12.4%, with half of the tax paid by the employee and half paid by the employer. Currently, the maximum amount of earnings subject to tax in 2023 is set at $160,200. Any earnings above this amount are not taxed for Social Security purposes.

Tax Rates

  • Employee: 6.2%
  • Employer: 6.2%

Taxable Earnings

YearMaximum Taxable Earnings

Taxation of Social Security Benefits

Social Security benefits are subject to taxation at the federal level, but there are income thresholds below which no taxes are owed.

Tax Exemption for Low-Income Recipients

  • Single filers: Up to $25,000 in benefits are tax-exempt.
  • Married couples filing jointly: Up to $32,000 in benefits are tax-exempt.

If your income exceeds these thresholds, a portion of your Social Security benefits will be taxable. The taxable amount is determined based on your provisional income:

Provisional IncomeTaxable Percentage of Benefits
$25,000-$34,000 (single)50%
$32,000-$44,000 (married, filing jointly)50%
Over $34,000 (single)85%
Over $44,000 (married, filing jointly)85%


If you are single and your provisional income (including Social Security benefits) is $30,000, your taxable Social Security benefits would be 50% of $5,000 ($30,000 – $25,000), which is $2,500.

It’s important to note that these tax rules apply to Social Security retirement, survivors, and disability benefits. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is not subject to federal income tax.

Special Considerations for Retirees

Social Security benefits are subject to federal income tax for retirees who meet certain criteria. The thresholds for taxation vary depending on your filing status and income. For 2023, the following thresholds apply:

  • Single filers: Up to $25,000 of benefits are tax-free.
  • Married couples filing jointly: Up to $32,000 of benefits are tax-free.
  • Married couples filing separately: Up to $0 of benefits are tax-free if the spouse also receives Social Security benefits.

If you exceed these thresholds, a portion of your Social Security benefits will be taxed at your ordinary income tax rate. The taxable portion is calculated using a formula that considers your other income, such as wages, self-employment income, and tax-exempt interest.

In addition to federal income tax, Social Security benefits may also be subject to state income tax in certain states.

Taxable Income Thresholds for Social Security Benefits

Filing StatusThreshold
Married filing jointly$32,000
Married filing separately (if spouse also receives benefits)$0

Well, folks, that’s all I have for you on the matter of Social Security taxation. I hope you found this article informative and helpful. Remember, if you’ve got any more questions about this or any other topic relating to your finances, feel free to come back and visit us again. We’re always here to help!