Skip to content

Learn To Save More

Taxes Q&A: Understanding What Is And Is Not Taxable

* Is Social Security retirement income taxable?

Social Security retirement benefits are taxable, although it depends on your total income and civil status. 

You will pay tax on only 85 percent of your Social Security benefits, based on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules. If you:

  • file a federal tax return as an “individual” and your combined income is:
    • between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
    • more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
  • file a joint return, and you and your spouse have a combined income that is:
    • between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
    • more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
  • are married and file a separate tax return, you probably will pay taxes on your benefits.
Your adjusted gross income
+ Nontaxable interest
½ of your Social Security benefits
= Your “combined income

Summary:

Social Security retirement benefits are taxable, although it depends on your total income and civil status. Federal law states that an individual must pay taxes if he/she has annual Social Security retirement income of more than $25,000. If he/she has a married status, they must pay such taxes if the income is more than $32,000.

 

* Are other pension payments (not SS) taxable?

Just like Social Security benefit payments, other pension payments are taxable, although it is dependent on the recipient’s income and marital status. If such payment is only his source of income, then it may be tax-free. Other conditions are also stipulated on the Instruction Booklet of the Internal Revenue Services (IRS).

* Are tips taxable?

Tips are not taxable if they are given for a service not correlated with a taxable sale. For instance, the tip that you give when your luggage is carried or your hotel room is cleaned is not taxable.

Another perfect example is the tip that you leave your waiter after your meal at a restaurant. In these instances, tips are not taxable.

However, there are taxable tips. These are called mandatory tips, where it is given on a service that is associated in taxable sale.

An example of such a tip is the amount that you have added to a certain meal or beverage (such as a bottomless ice tea which you need to add a certain amount). Such tips are printed in the restaurant’s menu or placed in their advertisement, if any.

* Is child support taxable?

Child support is not taxable. This is neither deductible by the payor nor taxable to the payee. Topic 422 of the Non-taxable Income determined by the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) stipulates that child support payments are not included in taxable income. Thus, it is not included in filing a tax return.

* Are gifts taxable?

Gifts are taxable. It depends on the equivalent amount of the gift to be given.

Federal law exempts the first $15,000 you give per person per year in both 2020 and 2021.

However, there are also stipulations in the law that allow you to give certain amounts, whether in cash or property, which do not have gift tax consequences. Gifts to charities or raffle draw winners have a corresponding deductible tax depending on the cash gift that they have received.