Are Your Social Security Benefits Taxable?

Are Your Social Security Benefits Taxable?

Some people must pay taxes on part of their Social Security benefits. Others find that their benefits aren’t taxable. If you get Social Security, the IRS can help you determine if some of your benefits are taxable.

Here are seven tips about how Social Security affects your taxes:

1. If you received these benefits in 2013, you should have received a Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement, showing the amount.

2. If Social Security was your only source of income in 2013, your benefits may not be taxable. You also may not need to file a federal income tax return.

3. If you get income from other sources, then you may have to pay taxes on some of your benefits.

4. Your income and filing status affect whether you must pay taxes on your Social Security.

5. The best, and free, way to find out if your benefits are taxable is to use IRS Free File to prepare and e-file your tax return. If you made $58,000 or less, you can use Free File tax software. The software will figure the taxable benefits for you. If your income was more than $58,000 and you feel comfortable doing your own taxes, use Free File Fillable Forms. Free File is available only at IRS.gov/freefile.

6. If you file a paper return, visit IRS.gov and use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool to see if any of your benefits are taxable.

7. A quick way to find out if any of your benefits may be taxable is to add one-half of your Social Security benefits to all your other income, including any tax-exempt interest. Next, compare this total to the base amounts below. If your total is more than the base amount for your filing status, then some of your benefits may be taxable. The three base amounts are:

$25,000 – for single, head of household, qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child or married individuals filing separately who did not live with their spouse at any time during the year
$32,000 -for married couples filing jointly
$0 – for married persons filing separately who lived together at any time during the year

Deducting Medical and Dental Expenses

Deducting Medical and Dental Expenses

If you plan to claim a deduction for your medical expenses, there are some new rules this year that may affect your tax return. Here are eight things you should know about the medical and dental expense deduction:

1. AGI threshold increase. Starting in 2013, the amount of allowable medical expenses you must exceed before you can claim a deduction is 10 percent of your adjusted gross income. The threshold was 7.5 percent of AGI in prior years.

2. Temporary exception for age 65. The AGI threshold is still 7.5 percent of your AGI if you or your spouse is age 65 or older. This exception will apply through Dec. 31, 2016.

3. You must itemize. You can only claim your medical and dental expenses if you itemize deductions on your federal tax return. You can’t claim these expenses if you take the standard deduction.

4. Paid in 2013. You can include only the expenses you paid in 2013. If you paid by check, the day you mailed or delivered the check is usually considered the date of payment.

5. Costs to include. You can include most medical or dental costs that you paid for yourself, your spouse and your dependents. Some exceptions and special rules apply. Any costs reimbursed by insurance or other sources don’t qualify for a deduction.

6. Expenses that qualify. You can include the costs of diagnosing, treating, easing or preventing disease. The cost of insurance premiums that you pay for policies that cover medical care qualifies, as does the cost of some long-term care insurance. The cost of prescription drugs and insulin also qualify. For more examples of costs you can deduct, see IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses.

7. Travel costs count. You may be able to claim the cost of travel for medical care. This includes costs such as public transportation, ambulance service, tolls and parking fees. If you use your car, you can deduct either the actual costs or the standard mileage rate for medical travel. The rate is 24 cents per mile for 2013.

8. No double benefit. You can’t claim a tax deduction for medical and dental expenses you paid with funds from your Health Savings Accounts or Flexible Spending Arrangements. Amounts paid with funds from those plans are usually tax-free.

Publication 502 is available on IRS.gov or you can order it by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

IRS Reminds Individuals of Health Care Choices for 2014

IRS Reminds Individuals of Health Care Choices for 2014

Everyone has important decisions to make concerning health care coverage in 2014. Starting in 2014, you must choose to either have basic health insurance coverage (known as minimum essential coverage) for yourself and everyone in your family for each month or go without health care coverage for some or all of the year.

If you don’t maintain health insurance coverage, you will need to either seek an exemption or make an individual shared responsibility payment for the period that you are not covered with the 2014 income tax return you file in 2015.

If you choose to have health care coverage, qualifying coverage includes:

health insurance coverage provided by your employer (including COBRA and retiree coverage),
health insurance coverage you purchase through a Marketplace,
Medicare, Medicaid or other government-sponsored health coverage including programs for veterans, or
coverage you buy directly from an insurance company.
If you purchase health insurance coverage through the Marketplace, you may be eligible for financial assistance including the premium tax credit, which will help lower the out-of-pocket cost of your monthly insurance premiums.

Qualifying coverage does not include certain coverage that may provide limited benefits, such as coverage only for vision care or dental care, workers’ compensation, or coverage only for a specific disease or condition.

If you choose to go without coverage or experience a gap in coverage, you may qualify for an exemption if you do not have access to affordable coverage, you have a gap of less than three consecutive months without coverage, or you qualify for one of several other exemptions. A special hardship exemption applies to individuals who purchase their insurance through the Marketplace during the initial enrollment period but due to the enrollment process have a coverage gap at the beginning of 2014.

If you (or any of your dependents) do not maintain coverage and do not qualify for an exemption, you will need to make an individual shared responsibility payment with your return. In general, the payment amount is either a percentage of your household income or a flat dollar amount, whichever is greater. You will owe 1/12th of the annual payment for each month you (or your dependents) do not have coverage and are not exempt. The annual payment amount for 2014 is the greater of:

1 percent of your household income that is above the tax return filing threshold for your filing status, such as Married Filing Jointly or single, or
Your family’s flat dollar amount, which is $95 per adult and $47.50 per child, limited to a maximum of $285.
The individual shared responsibility payment is capped at the cost of the national average premium for the bronze level health plan available through the Marketplace in 2014. You will make the payment when you file your 2014 federal income tax return in 2015.

For more information about the individual shared responsibility provision and the premium tax credit, visit IRS.gov/aca. Visit the Department of Health and Human Services at HealthCare.gov for more information about health insurance coverage options and the Health Insurance Marketplace, financial assistance and exemptions.