U.S Code last checked for updates: Jul 21, 2024
§ 86.
Social security and tier 1 railroad retirement benefits
(a)
In general
(1)
In general
Except as provided in paragraph (2), gross income for the taxable year of any taxpayer described in subsection (b) (notwithstanding section 207 of the Social Security Act) includes social security benefits in an amount equal to the lesser of—
(A)
one-half of the social security benefits received during the taxable year, or
(B)
one-half of the excess described in subsection (b)(1).
(2)
Additional amount
In the case of a taxpayer with respect to whom the amount determined under subsection (b)(1)(A) exceeds the adjusted base amount, the amount included in gross income under this section shall be equal to the lesser of—
(A)
the sum of—
(i)
85 percent of such excess, plus
(ii)
the lesser of the amount determined under paragraph (1) or an amount equal to one-half of the difference between the adjusted base amount and the base amount of the taxpayer, or
(B)
85 percent of the social security benefits received during the taxable year.
(b)
Taxpayers to whom subsection (a) applies
(1)
In general
A taxpayer is described in this subsection if—
(A)
the sum of—
(i)
the modified adjusted gross income of the taxpayer for the taxable year, plus
(ii)
one-half of the social security benefits received during the taxable year, exceeds
(B)
the base amount.
(2)
Modified adjusted gross income
For purposes of this subsection, the term “modified adjusted gross income” means adjusted gross income—
(A)
determined without regard to this section and sections 85(c), 135, 137, 221, 911, 931, and 933, and
(B)
increased by the amount of interest received or accrued by the taxpayer during the taxable year which is exempt from tax.
(c)
Base amount and adjusted base amount
For purposes of this section—
(1)
Base amount
The term “base amount” means—
(A)
except as otherwise provided in this paragraph, $25,000,
(B)
$32,000 in the case of a joint return, and
(C)
zero in the case of a taxpayer who—
(i)
is married as of the close of the taxable year (within the meaning of section 7703) but does not file a joint return for such year, and
(ii)
does not live apart from his spouse at all times during the taxable year.
(2)
Adjusted base amount
The term “adjusted base amount” means—
(A)
except as otherwise provided in this paragraph, $34,000,
(B)
$44,000 in the case of a joint return, and
(C)
zero in the case of a taxpayer described in paragraph (1)(C).
(d)
Social security benefit
(1)
In general
For purposes of this section, the term “social security benefit” means any amount received by the taxpayer by reason of entitlement to—
(A)
a monthly benefit under title II of the Social Security Act, or
(B)
a tier 1 railroad retirement benefit.
(2)
Adjustment for repayments during year
(A)
In general
(B)
Denial of deduction
(3)
Workmen’s compensation benefits substituted for social security benefits
(4)
Tier 1 railroad retirement benefit
For purposes of paragraph (1), the term “tier 1 railroad retirement benefit” means—
(A)
the amount of the annuity under the Railroad Retirement Act of 1974 equal to the amount of the benefit to which the taxpayer would have been entitled under the Social Security Act if all of the service after December 31, 1936, of the employee (on whose employment record the annuity is being paid) had been included in the term “employment” as defined in the Social Security Act, and
(B)
a monthly annuity amount under section 3(f)(3) of the Railroad Retirement Act of 1974.
(5)
Effect of early delivery of benefit checks
(e)
Limitation on amount included where taxpayer receives lump-sum payment
(1)
Limitation
If—
(A)
any portion of a lump-sum payment of social security benefits received during the taxable year is attributable to prior taxable years, and
(B)
the taxpayer makes an election under this subsection for the taxable year,
then the amount included in gross income under this section for the taxable year by reason of the receipt of such portion shall not exceed the sum of the increases in gross income under this chapter for prior taxable years which would result solely from taking into account such portion in the taxable years to which it is attributable.
(2)
Special rules
(A)
Year to which benefit attributable
(B)
Election
(f)
Treatment as pension or annuity for certain purposes
For purposes of—
(1)
section 22(c)(3)(A) (relating to reduction for amounts received as pension or annuity),
(2)
section 32(c)(2) (defining earned income),
(3)
section 219(f)(1) (defining compensation), and
(4)
section 911(b)(1) (defining foreign earned income),
any social security benefit shall be treated as an amount received as a pension or annuity.
(Added and amended Pub. L. 98–21, title I, § 121(a), title III, § 335(b)(2)(A), Apr. 20, 1983, 97 Stat. 80, 130; Pub. L. 98–76, title II, § 224(d), Aug. 12, 1983, 97 Stat. 424; Pub. L. 98–369, div. A, title IV, § 474(r)(2), div. B, title VI, § 2661(o)(1), July 18, 1984, 98 Stat. 839, 1158; Pub. L. 99–272, title XII, § 12111(b), title XIII, § 13204(a), Apr. 7, 1986, 100 Stat. 287, 313; Pub. L. 99–514, title I, § 131(b)(2), title XIII, § 1301(j)(8), title XVIII, § 1847(b)(2), Oct. 22, 1986, 100 Stat. 2113, 2658, 2856; Pub. L. 100–647, title I, § 1001(e), title VI, § 6009(c)(1), Nov. 10, 1988, 102 Stat. 3351, 3690; Pub. L. 103–66, title XIII, § 13215(a), (b), Aug. 10, 1993, 107 Stat. 475, 476; Pub. L. 103–296, title III, § 309(d), Aug. 15, 1994, 108 Stat. 1523; Pub. L. 104–188, title I, §§ 1704(t)(3), 1807(c)(2), Aug. 20, 1996, 110 Stat. 1887, 1902; Pub. L. 105–277, div. J, title IV, § 4003(a)(2)(B), Oct. 21, 1998, 112 Stat. 2681–908; Pub. L. 107–16, title IV, § 431(c)(1), June 7, 2001, 115 Stat. 68; Pub. L. 108–357, title I, § 102(d)(1), Oct. 22, 2004, 118 Stat. 1428; Pub. L. 115–97, title I, § 13305(b)(1), Dec. 22, 2017, 131 Stat. 2126; Pub. L. 116–260, div. EE, title I, § 104(b)(2)(C), Dec. 27, 2020, 134 Stat. 3041; Pub. L. 117–2, title IX, § 9042(b)(2), Mar. 11, 2021, 135 Stat. 122.)
cite as: 26 USC 86