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Fortunately, there are perfectly acceptable ways that you can lower the taxes that you owe on your Social Security benefits. What follows are tips.
All citizens owe the IRS a share of their income. The rule goes even if you’re retired and collect Social Security benefits.
You probably know that your Social Security check can take a hit if you continue to work at full retirement age while you collect your benefits.
There are other things that you can do that can take a bite out of your benefits, however.
If you make too much money, you can find yourself owing taxes on your Social Security benefits — even when the money you make comes from withdrawals from a retirement plan.
According to the Social Security Administration, you owe taxes on 50% of your Social Security benefits if your non-taxable interest, your adjusted gross income, and half your Social Security benefits, add up to between $25,000 and $34,000 a year (if you file as an individual), or to between $32,000 and $44,000 a year (if you file jointly).
Put off collecting your benefits
When you wait to full retirement age to collect Social Security benefits, or even past it, you avoid paying taxes on those benefits for as long as you defer them.
In addition, when you finally do begin collecting benefits after deferring them a few years, you receive bigger checks each month.
Don’t work once you retire
If you work post-retirement, and it’s employment that gives you money that you need, then working is a good idea.
If it’s a job that you don’t love and that only pays modestly, however, you need to realize that the money you make may push you into an income bracket at which you owe taxes.
If you’re in a low-paying job that you don’t particularly care about, you should carefully weigh whether the pay is worth the trouble, considering the fact that you may need to pay additional taxes because of the job.
Think twice about investing in municipal bonds
Many people invest in municipal bonds because doing so helps them owe less to the IRS. Usually, interest earned on municipal bonds is not subject to income tax.
Things are different in the way the taxes on Social Security benefits are calculated, however. Interest on municipal bonds is viewed as income when the IRS looks at whether you owe taxes on your Social Security benefits.
If you’re interested in municipal bonds as a way to lower your Social Security taxes, you should talk to a tax expert about whether these bonds can actually help.
Take money out of a Roth account
If you’ve been putting money away in a 401(k) or a traditional IRA, you won’t have paid taxes on those contributions.
When you retire and withdraw from one of these retirement accounts, however, you do begin to owe taxes on the money.
Not to mention, the withdrawals that you make are considered income. Added together with your Social Security benefits, they affect whether you pay taxes on those benefits.
You can avoid having your withdrawals boost your income too much by only withdrawing the required minimum distribution each year.
Whatever additional money you may need, you might take it out of a Roth 401(k) or Roth IRA.
Roth withdrawals do not add to your combined income and do not raise the taxes you pay to your Social Security benefits.
Carefully managing your income in retirement can help you keep as much of your money as possible and save on your taxes.