Tax and money questions answered by WalletPop experts


The clock is ticking: Get your tax return in before the deadline and avoid the long arm of the Internal Revenue Service. Need help? The IRS offers some assistance. WalletPop experts are also available to help. Here, they tackle questions about bankruptcy and whether or not to claim investment money and Social Security disability payments as income.

I receive Social Security disability, and my husband works full time. I make less than $11,000 a year in Social Security, and last year he made roughly $17,000. We have a daughter in college, living at home and not working (she's a freshman in her first semester). Am I supposed to claim my income even if they don't take out taxes on it? I don't want to get hit with not reporting income.

Answer from Barbara Weltman of The J.K. Lasser Institute
You must report your Social Security disability benefits as they have been reported to you in Box 5 of Form SSA-1099. Social Security benefits for disability are treated the same as Social Security retirement benefits. Whether and to what extent they are taxable depends on the income reported on your joint return. The taxable portion of the benefits depends on your "provisional income," which is the total income reported on your joint return, increased by 50% of your disability benefits and any tax-exempt interest. If this provisional income does not exceed $32,000, then your benefits aren't taxed. If you cross this threshold, benefits are included in income at 50% or 85%, depending on the amount of provisional income.

Originally published