Weekend Reading: 9 Ways to Help Clients Reduce Taxes on Social Security

This article appears as part of Casey Weade's Weekend Reading for Retirees series. Every Friday, Casey highlights four hand-picked articles on trending retirement topics and delivers them straight to your email inbox. Get on the list here.
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Weekend Reading

You’re well aware Uncle Sam wants his share of your retirement income, but some of the families we meet with are surprised to find that includes Social Security benefits.


Whether you file taxes as single or joint – plus the total of your provisional income – determines the tax impact on your benefits.

Ultimately, up to 85 percent of your monthly Social Security paycheck could be subject to taxation. To help maximize what ends up in your pocket, five of the nine things to focus on include the following:

📌 Reduce RMDs: Leading up to age 72 (when RMDs begin) you can implement strategies that will help reduce future RMDs and the taxable income they produce.

📌 Consider Roth conversions: Prior to drawing Social Security and in years when your income may be lower, Roth conversions are one way to also reduce future RMDs and provide tax-free retirement income.

📌 Don’t forget QCDs: When you reach age 70 ½, qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) from a traditional IRA become available. If implemented prior to taking RMDs, QCDs can reduce the amount of future RMDS – and, once you begin RMDs, QCDs can help satisfy some or all of your RMD requirements.

📌 Prioritize tax-loss harvesting: To offset income from realizing capital gains, tax-loss harvesting can be employed to reduce taxable income.

📌 Combine several years’ worth of expenses: When it’s impossible to keep your income low enough to avoid Social Security taxation every year, combining several years of expenses and deductions into one year can help minimize taxable income and maximize deductions.

You can’t entirely escape the hold Uncle Sam has on your retirement income, but by strategically keeping your income below tax thresholds, you gain more control over your tax liability, including how it applies to Social Security benefits.