How to File a Joint Income Tax With One Person on Social Security Benefits

By Richard Asmus
Couples can gain a tax advantage by filing jointly.
tax forms image by Chad McDermott from Fotolia.com

Married couples usually gain a tax advantage by filing a joint return in which both spouses add their incomes, deductions and benefits together. If one person receives Social Security benefits, they can still use either the shortened 1040A form or the longer 1040 form, depending on the complexity of their situation. The couple may need to fill out other forms also, including those for self employment, rental property income or loss, itemized deductions or other special situations. But one person receiving Social Security benefits does not create a specific filing problem.

Fill out your personal data in the "Label," "Filing status" and "Exemptions" sections of either Form 1040A or 1040 for yourself and your spouse. In the "Filing status" section, be sure to check box 2, "Married couple filing jointly (even if only one had income)."

Enter your other income data in the "Income" sections of either Form 1040A or 1040 for yourself and your spouse. Be sure to enter all wages, interest, dividends, pensions or any other income in the appropriate boxes. For each category, add the incomes, if any, of the two parties together. For no income in any category, enter "0."

Enter your Social Security income benefits on line 14a of Form 1040A or line 20a of Form 1040. The amount to enter is found in box 3 of Form SSA-1099 that the beneficiary received from the Social Security Administration.

Calculate the taxable portion of your Social Security benefits and enter it in line 14b of Form 1040A or line 20b of Form 1040. Use the calculation sheet found on page 28 of the instructions for Form 1040A and on page 27 for Form 1040. The taxable portion of the Social Security benefits depends on the amount of other income received by both spouses, and can be simple or complex depending on your situation. You cannot calculate the taxable portion of your Social Security income without using the worksheet.

Add the totals of your incomes to find your total income. On Form 1040A, add lines 7 through 14b and enter the amount on line 15. On Form 1040, add lines 7 through 21 and enter the amount on line 22.

Continue filling your tax forms as appropriate. Your have completed all entries specific to the Social Security benefits.

About the Author

Richard Asmus was a writer and producer of television commercials in Phoenix, Arizona, and now is retired in Peru. After founding a small telecommunications engineering corporation and visiting 37 countries, Asmus studied broadcasting at Arizona State University and earned his Master of Fine Arts at Brooklyn College in New York.