Question

My son has been receiving Social Security survivor benefits since his dad died. In the past, I haven’t had to claim any of these funds. Are Social Security survivor benefits taxable — Does it make any difference if my son was adopted?

Answer

You’ll report any Social Security survivor benefits for your child on your child’s return. Only the person who has the legal right to receive the benefits includes the money in income (if taxable). This is true even if the Social Security survivor benefits are put in your bank account. It doesn’t make any difference if your son was or wasn’t adopted.

This is true as long as the child’s provisional income is less than the base amount. Provisional income is usually the sum of these:

  • 50% of Social Security benefits
  • Other taxable and tax-exempt income

The base amount is $25,000 for a single filer — or $32,000 for married filing jointly.

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