Thursday, February 21, 2013
April’s showers bring more than just May’s flowers — they also bring the deadline day for filing taxes. Don’t wait until the showers arrive to prepare for tax season. Whether you are a small business owner, a retiree or a new parent, here are some Social Security tax tips that may help you.
• Are Social Security benefits taxable? They are for some people. About one third of those receiving benefits must pay taxes on some of their Social Security. If your total income, including Social Security and all of your other taxable income, is $25,000 or more and you file federal taxes as an individual, you’ll need to pay federal taxes on some of your benefits. (That amount is $32,000 for married couples filing a joint return.)
• Will I get a tax form for my Social Security benefits? Yes. In fact, you should have already received it. Social Security Benefit Statements (Form SSA-1099) for tax year 2012 were mailed to beneficiaries and should have been received by January 31, 2013. If you receive Social Security and haven’t received your 1099, you can request one online at www.socialsecurity.gov/1099.
• We had our first child in 2012. Does our baby need a Social Security Number? Yes. Most people apply for their baby’s Social Security number while they’re still in the hospital at the same time they apply for the birth certificate. But if you didn’t, you’ll need to apply for your child’s Social Security number in order to claim the child as a dependent on your tax return. You’ll also need it if you ever apply for government benefits on behalf of the child or your family. Learn more about Social Security cards and numbers at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.
• I changed my name when I got married last year. Do I need to report it to Social Security? Yes. If you’ve legally changed your name due to marriage, divorce, court order or for any other reason, make sure you change your name with Social Security, as well as with your employer. If you change with one source but not the other, it could cause your earnings to be improperly recorded. That could result in you not getting all the benefits you earned when you become eligible for Social Security in the future. You can learn more about your Social Security number and how to change your name at www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.
• I own a small business. Can I report the W-2s of my employees online to Social Security? Yes, and we encourage you to do so at www.socialsecurity.gov/bso. Filing your W-2s electronically is free, fast and secure. Plus there’s an added bonus: When you file electronically, you receive an extra month to file because electronically filed W-2s aren’t due until March 31. You’ll also receive an electronic acknowledgement receipt. And when you file electronically, you can print out your W-2s for your employees.
• Does Social Security have any advice to make tax filing and future benefit applications go smoothly? We encourage you to carefully check your name, Social Security number and all of the data on your W-2s, your online Social Security Statement, and Social Security card to make sure they all match. If you don’t have access to your card or statement but know your Social Security number, make sure the number and information is correct on your W-2s. A mismatch could delay your tax refund and cause problems with your Social Security benefits in the future. Such errors are much easier to fix now. If you do notice an error, you should contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), or if the information on the W-2 is incorrect, notify your employer.
For more information about Social Security, visit www.socialsecurity.gov.
(Michael W. Grochowski is the Social Security Regional Commissioner in Atlanta.)