If the only income you received during 1997 was your social security or equivalent tier
1 railroad retirement benefits, your benefits are unlikely to be taxed and you probably
will not have to file a return.
If you also received other income, your benefits will not be taxed unless your income
is more than the base amount for your filing status. Your income is computed by adding
one-half of your social security or equivalent tier 1 railroad retirement benefits to all
your other income, including any tax exempt interest or exclusions from income. Compare
this total to your base amount:
- $25,000 if you are single, head of household, or qualifying widow or widower with a
- $25,000 if you are married filing separately and did not live with your spouse at any
time during the year;
- $32,000 if you are married and file a joint return;
- Zero if you are married filing separately and lived with your spouse at any time during
If your income is more than your base amount, part of your benefits will be taxable.
The taxable amount of your benefits is figured on a worksheet in the Form 1040 or 1040A instruction book.
The taxable benefits, if any, must be included in the gross income of the person who
has the legal right to receive them. For example, if you and your child received benefits,
but the check for your child was made out in your name, you must use only your own portion
of the benefits in figuring if any part is taxable to you. The portion of the benefits
that belong to your child must be added to your child's other income to see if any of
those benefits are taxable.
If you are married and file a joint return, you and your spouse must combine your
incomes and your social security and equivalent tier 1 railroad retirement benefits when
figuring the taxable portion of your benefits.
If part of your benefits is taxable, enter both the total amount and the taxable amount
of the benefits received on Form 1040 or 1040A. You cannot use Form 1040EZ.
You should receive your 1997 Form SSA-1099 or Form RRB-1099 by January 31, 1998. The
form will show benefits paid to the person who has the legal right to get them, and the
amount of any benefits you repaid in 1997. It will also show amounts by which the benefits
were reduced because you received workers compensation benefits.
For additional information, order Publication 915, Social
Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits, by calling 1-800-829-3676.
If any part of your social security or equivalent tier 1 railroad retirement benefits
will be taxable in 1997, you may need to pay estimated tax. See Topic
355 for additional information on estimated tax.
Tax Topics & FAQs | Tax Help Archives | Home