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Some people have to pay federal income taxes on their Social Security benefits. This usually happens only if you have other substantial income (such as wages, self-employment, interest, dividends and other taxable income that must be reported on your tax return) in addition to your benefits.
Your filing status along with half your benefits and all your other income determines if you pay tax on some of your benefits. This is your combined income mentioned below.
No one pays federal income tax on more than 85 percent of his or her Social Security benefits based on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules. If you:
more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
Your adjusted gross income + Nontaxable interest + ½ of your Social Security benefits = Your "combined income"
You do that calculation then look to your filing status to see if you must include some of your benefits as taxable on the 1040.