What are the filing obligations for someone who receives Social Security benefits and who lives outside the U.S.?

If U.S. Social Security benefits are the only source of your worldwide income, then you may not need to file. Whether or not you need to file will be determined by the filing thresholds associated with your filing status. Here are the thresholds associated with common filing statuses:

  • $25,000 - for anyone filing as single, as head of household, as a qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child, and for married individuals filing separately who did not live with their spouse at any time during the year.
  • $32,000 - for married couples filing jointly.
  • $0 - for married persons filing separately who lived together at any time during the year.

If you have any other income from the U.S. or worldwide income, then you will likely need to file a tax return--even if you are below the threshold for your filing status given above. The tax due, if any, will be based upon your gross income from all sources. However, your Social Security benefits will only be partially taxed.

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