In what year would December’s Social Security benefits be taxable?

by Anthony R. Deutsch, CPA | Aug 20, 2019

What year are December's Social Security benefits taxable in? Social Security always pays the following month, so if I apply to start benefits for the month of December 2019, I will get that first check in late January 2020. Would that month’s benefits be taxable in 2019 or 2020? My modified adjusted gross income is really close to the limit that would push me into a higher Medicare Part B premium bracket.

Individual U.S. taxpayers are taxed using the cash method of accounting. This means that income is taxed in the year it is received, not when it is earned or eligible to be received. Therefore, Social Security benefits are always taxable in the year they are received. (Note: There is a special rule to calculate the amount of benefits that are taxable if a lump sum Social Security benefit is received for prior year benefits due to an appeal to the Social Security Administration. However, the benefits are always taxed in the year received).

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Answered by: Anthony R. Deutsch, CPA, is a shareholder with Cocannon, Miller & Co. PC in Bethlehem, Pa.

The responses are based on the limited information provided by the questioner and apply the laws and regulations at the time of posting. Other options could arise as rules and regulations may change over time, including but not limited to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. They are intended to provide general information, not specific accounting or tax advice; they are not intended or written to be used and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding or evading taxes or penalties under the IRS code or regulations. Views expressed do not imply an opinion of the PICPA, its officers, directors, employees, or members.
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