4. Shortchanging Social Security. Many retirees fail to consider the impact that retirement plan distributions may have on the taxability of their Social Security income, said Salmen.
If you and your spouse file a joint return with a combined income below $32,000, your Social Security benefits are tax-free. If your income from wages, self-employment, interest, dividends or retirement plan distributions falls between $32,000 and $44,000, however, up to 50 percent of your benefit may be subject to tax. And if your total household income is above $44,000, up to 85 percent of your benefit may be taxable. The thresholds for single taxpayers are $25,000 and $34,000.
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"If you're in a situation where your total income is $30,000 and you take $15,000 from your retirement plan, you just went from Social Security not being taxable to all of it being taxed at 85 percent," said Salmen. "It's a big deal, and not many retirees are aware of it."
Wealthy retirees who already have income above $44,000 need not worry about the added impact of distributions, as they already pay the maximum tax on their Social Security income. Likewise, those with income well below the minimum threshold for taxation are generally in the clear.