IRS publication 915 is a document of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the U.S. about social security and tier 1 equivalent railroad retirement benefits for helping taxpayers in preparation of tax returns for 2012 onward. This IRS pub explains rules of our national income tax related to benefits from social security as well as tier 1 equivalent railroad benefits from retirement. This IRS 915 is a joint effort of the IRS, the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, and the Social Security Administration (SSA).
The IRS Recognized These Types of Social Security Benefits
The social security benefits recognized by the IRS are monthly retirement benefits, disability benefits, and survivor benefits. These benefits are exclusive of supplemental security income payments that are not subject to IRS tax. These benefits are known as part of tier 1 benefits of social security equivalent benefits (SSEB).
If you are among one of the beneficiaries under the above mentioned benefits during 2012, you would be in possession of form SSA-1099, the form for Social Security Benefit Statement, or form RRB-1099, the form for Payments by the Railroad Retirement Board. Both would mention the amount that you have received. Non-resident aliens would have in their possession either form SSA-1042S or form RRB-1042S., if they are eligible for such payments and have received them.
IRS publication 915 explains the following major issues.
- Whether the above benefits that you have received are taxable
- What is the taxable amount
- How you should report these benefits that can be taxed
- How you should treat the payments from a lump sum benefit
- Deductions arising from the benefits that you have received under the above guidance rules, including any credit or deduction that you could put on your tax form, if the repayments you made have been higher than your gross benefits.
However, the IRS 915 does not cover many other tax rules related to railroad benefits. They are amounts from things other than social security benefits (NSSEB) portion of your tier 1 benefits, tier 2 benefits, supplementary annuity benefits, and vested dual benefits. This publication is also not covering the tax laws of any social security benefits from a foreign entity. The IRS considers such benefits as annuities and hence taxable, unless these benefits prove to be exempt from IRS tax rules or IRS treats them as social security benefits under the U.S. regulations due to any tax treaty.
Railroad Retirement Benefits
If you have received your income in 2012 only through the SSEB tier 1 railroad retirement benefit portion or through your social security, your benefits are not taxable if the base amount of your income is $25,000 in case you are a single person, a qualified widow(er), or head of household. The same limit is applicable if you are married but files your returns separately and have lived separated from your spouse throughout the year of 2012. The limit for married persons filing joint tax returns is $32,000. You need not file any separate return if the above conditions apply. However, you would have to file a return if you have additional incomes along with the above benefits.