IRS Tax Tip 2003-36, (Feb. 20, 2003) -- The IRS says that whether your Social Security benefits are taxable depends on your total income and marital status. Form SSA-1099, which Social Security recipients receive by Jan. 31, shows your total benefits, but determining your taxable benefits requires putting pencil to paper.
Generally, if Social Security benefits were your only income, your benefits are not taxable and you probably do not need to file a federal income tax return. If you received Social Security benefits plus other income, the answer to how much, if any, is taxable can be found in the worksheet in the Form 1040 instruction book.
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