Q:

How do you determine the maximum withholding taxes on Social Security income?

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Quick Answer

Beneficiaries can instruct the Social Security Administration to withhold 7, 10, 15 or 25 percent in taxes from their monthly payments. These are the only withholding amounts available, and beneficiaries can’t select flat dollar amounts, explains the SSA. Beneficiaries also can make quarterly estimated tax payments on their own. Individuals can owe taxes on up to 85 percent of their benefits, depending on their additional income from wages or investments.

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Full Answer

Your combined income is equal to your adjusted gross income plus your nontaxable interest plus half your annual Social Security benefit. If your combined income as a single taxpayer is between $25,000 and $34,000, you may owe taxes on up to 50 percent of your benefits, as of 2015. If your combined income exceeds $34,000, you may owe taxes on up to 85 percent of your benefits, which is the maximum, notes the SSA.

A married couple who files jointly may owe taxes on up to 50 percent of their benefits if their combined income is between $32,000 and $44,000. Couples whose income exceeds $44,000 may owe taxes on up to 85 percent of their benefits. Couples who file taxes separately usually owe taxes on their benefits, adds the SSA.

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