Social Security Tax Tips for 2012

Time goes by so quickly, it can be easy to forget important deadlines and even easier to let critical items fall behind on your to-do list. Tax time is right around the corner. If you haven't filed your tax return yet, now is the time; however, before you begin, you should make sure you have everything you need.

Are Social Security benefits taxable?

They are sometimes. About one third of beneficiaries pay taxes on their Social Security. If your total income, including Social Security and all of your other taxable income, is $25,000 or more, you’ll need to pay federal taxes on your benefits. That amount is $32,000 for married couples who file a joint return.

Will I get a tax form for my Social Security benefits?

Yes, and you should have already received it. Social Security Benefit Statements (Form SSA-1099) for tax year 2011 were mailed to beneficiaries and should have been received by January 31, 2012. If you receive Social Security and haven’t received your 1099, you can request one online. Make sure your address with Social Security is current. Many people receive their payments via direct deposit and forget to update their address. You can change your address online.

Does Social Security have any advice to make tax filing and future benefit applications go smoothly? 

We strongly encourage you to check that your name, Social Security number, and all of the data on your W-2s and on your Social Security Statement are correct. A mismatch could delay your tax refund and might cause problems with your Social Security benefits in the future. Such errors are easy to fix now. If you do notice an error, contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). If the incorrect information is on your W-2, contact your employer's personnel department.

Be aware of these Social Security tax tips, and you won't be caught off-guard. For more information about Social Security, visit

—Kirk Larson, Social Security Western Washington

Free Tax Preparation Services

United Way of King County provides quality free tax preparation services at 16 sites across King County, through April 17, 2012. Free tax preparation is available to those who make less than $50,000 and need basic individual tax returns.

United Way's free tax preparation services help low-income people secure all the refunds and credits that they're eligible to receive, including the Earned Income Tax Credit. Taxes are prepared by IRS-trained and certified volunteers, and electronically filed for a fast refund.

For free tax preparation sites and times, visit the United Way website.