Internal Revenue Service United States Department of the Treasury
Level Basic Advanced Military International

Income — Social Security Benefits; Form 1040, Line 20a

Summary

Summary

This lesson explained how to determine whether income from taxpayers' social security benefits and railroad retirement benefits is taxable.

Generally, if social security benefits were the taxpayer's only source of income, the benefits are not taxable and the taxpayer does not need to file a federal income tax return. If the taxpayer received social security benefits and other income, complete the Social Security Benefits Worksheet to calculate the taxable portion.

When figuring the taxable portion of social security benefits, two options are available for lump-sum benefit payments. The taxpayer may report the whole payment in the year it was received or treat the payment as received in the applicable earlier year or years.