Don’t Forget: Your Clients’ Social Security Benefits Are Taxed
January 1, 2020 by Bernice Napach
Helping clients avoid the taxation of Social Security benefits is a tall order for any financial advisor because the income thresholds that subject clients to such taxation are set low. They were never indexed to inflation as are Social Security benefits, with their cost of living adjustments, or the incomes of high earners subject to the Medicare surcharge, or income tax brackets.
When taxes on Social Security benefits were introduced in 1983, the income thresholds “were intentionally not indexed” to inflation even though it was projected that “more and more people” would have to pay those taxes due to “increases in real income or inflation” and “Congress intended the taxation of benefits should not affect ‘lower income’ individuals,” according to the Social Security Administration.
Today, single retirees with modified adjusted gross incomes above $25,000 and couples filing jointly with modified gross incomes above $32,000 are subject to taxation of their Social Security benefits. If the thresholds had been adjusted for inflation, those levels would be about 2.5 times as high — about $63,000 for singles and $81,000 for couples filing jointly, according to The Senior Citizens League.