International Programs

Nonresident Alien Tax Withholding

Federal Income Taxes and Your Social Security Benefits

A portion of your Social Security retirement, survivors, or disability benefits may be taxed. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Special Veterans benefits are not taxed. Currently, no one pays federal income tax on more than 85 percent of his or her Social Security benefits based on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules.

The federal income tax rules and filing requirements are different for U.S. persons and foreign persons. To learn about your tax status, visit IRS's website.

U.S. Persons

IRS's definition of U.S. persons includes citizens of the United States and aliens who meet the tax definition of U.S. resident alien. Generally, if you are a U.S. person, you are subject to U.S. income tax filing requirements and your worldwide income is subject to U.S. income tax, regardless of where you live.

SSA will not withhold tax from your benefits if you are a U.S. person. If you find that you do have to pay taxes on your Social Security benefits, you can make quarterly estimated tax payments to the IRS or choose to have federal taxes withheld from your benefits.

You can read more about income taxes for U.S. Persons in the Benefits Planner: Income Taxes And Your Social Security Benefits page on SSA's website, U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad (IRS Publication 54), or on IRS's website.

Foreign Persons

If IRS considers you to be a foreign person (or nonresident alien) for tax purposes, SSA is required to withhold a 30 percent flat income tax from 85 percent of your Social Security retirement, survivors, or disability benefits. This results in a withholding of 25.5 percent of your monthly benefit. You may be exempt from this tax (or subject to a lower rate) by treaty. To learn more about nonresident alien tax, you can review U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens (IRS Publication 519) or visit IRS's website.


  • Social security benefit statement:
    Each January you will receive a Social Security Benefit Statement (Form SSA-1099 or Form SSA-1042S) showing the amount of benefits you received in the previous year. You can use this Benefit Statement when you complete your federal income tax return to find out if your benefits are subject to tax.
  • Taxation of U.S. Social Security benefits by foreign governments:
    Many foreign governments do tax U.S. Social Security benefits. U.S. residents planning to live in another country should contact that country’s embassy in Washington, D.C., for information.


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