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Taxes on Social Security can be costly surprise Many retirees are surprised to find that their Social Security retirement benefits are subject to federal income tax, according to Kiplinger. Clients who are approaching retirement are advised to determine their provisional income in retirement to know if their benefits will be taxed. The benefits are not taxable if their provisional income is below $25,000 for singles and heads of households or $32,000 for joint filers. To minimize the tax bite on these benefits, retirees need to use some tax planning, such as taking staggered IRA withdrawals and tapping Roth assets.  --Kiplinger

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