Repaying Social Security

Today TaxMama hears from Barb in San Diego who asks. “If I return my Social Security payments that I have previously paid income tax on, can I get a refund of those taxes on returns filed more than 3 years ago i.
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e. prior to 2005 tax year?”

Hi Barb,

That is an interesting concept. Unfortunately, there are two reasons it couldn’t work.

1) Even if you could get a refund, you can only get refunds for tax returns filed within three years of your claim for refund or amended return. Pre-2005 is too far back.

2) You are a cash-basis taxpayer.
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If you repay SS in 2008, you can’t amend the prior year when you actually received the SS benefits. However, your repayment will reduce any taxable benefits you receive this year. So, at least you won’t pay taxes on 2008 benefits.

I know, it’s hard to predict the future. But I can’t see how anyone can afford to live on SS benefits alone, without also supplementing them with work or business income (or investment income).
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As you found out, taking the benefits too early can be expensive when you still have to work to support yourself.
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The good news is, repaying your benefits and taking them later will increase the monthly payments you get when you are ready to collect.
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And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about social security income and other tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At TaxMama.com

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