Dear Tax Talk,
What is the base amount if both husband and wife collect Social Security and both are over 70?
— Dom

Dear Dom,
You’re asking, “Is age a factor for Social Security tax?” This is a great question, as there seems to be a lot of confusion regarding the taxability of Social Security benefits.

First of all, your age is not a factor to determine if some of your Social Security benefits are taxable. It depends on your income and filing status.

If Social Security is your only source of income, it is generally not taxable and you may not even need to file a tax return. However, if you have other types of income, then up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.

To determine if some of your benefits are taxable:

  • Take one-half of your Social Security benefits for both you and your wife and then add in all of your other income, including tax-exempt interest. You will need Form SSA-1099 Social Security Benefit Statement, which will show you the amounts you received.
  • Once you have done this calculation, if the amount you calculate is more than the base amount for your filing status, then some of your Social Security may be taxable.
  • The base amount for you and your wife as a married couple filing a joint return is $32,000. For married couples who lived together at any time during the year and are filing separate returns, it is zero dollars. For all other filing statuses, it is $25,000.

The IRS has a work sheet in the Instructions for Form 1040, which gets you through the calculation. Or you can use any tax software program and it will compute it for you.

Thanks for your question.

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