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Now is the time to prepare for tax season

Wise taxpayers may want to take advantage of winter months indoors to prepare for tax filing season this spring.

Whether you are a small business owner, a retiree or a new parent, here are some Social Security tax tips that may help you.

Are Social Security benefits taxable? Yes, for some people with higher incomes. About one third of those receiving Social Security benefits must pay taxes on some of their Social Security benefits, depending on the amount of their taxable income. Learn more at www.socialsecurity.gov/planners/taxes.htm.

Will I get a tax form for my Social Security benefits? Yes. Beneficiaries should receive their Social Security Benefit Statements (Form SSA-1099) for tax year 2013 on or before Friday, Jan. 31, 2014.

People who receive Social Security and don’t receive a 1099 by the end of January can request one online at socialsecurity.gov/1099.

We had a baby in 2013. Does our child need a Social Security number? Yes. Most people apply for their baby’s Social Security number while they’re still in the hospital at the same time they register for the birth certificate. But if you didn’t, you’ll need to apply for your child’s Social Security number before you file your tax return in order to claim the child as a dependent.

You’ll also need it if you ever apply for government benefits on behalf of your child or your family. Learn more about Social Security cards and numbers at socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

I changed my name when I got married last year. Do I need to report it to Social Security? Yes. If you’ve legally changed your name due to marriage, divorce, court order, or for any other reason, make sure you change your name with Social Security, as well as with your employer.

If you change with one source but not the other, it could cause your earnings to be improperly recorded and you may not get all the benefits you are entitled to when you become eligible for Social Security in the future.

Failing to change your name on your Social Security record could also cause a delay in your receipt of any federal income tax refund.

You can learn more about your Social Security number and how to change your name at socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber.

I own a small business. Can I report my employees’ W-2s to Social Security electronically? Yes, and we encourage you to do just that at www.socialsecurity.gov/bso.

Filing W-2s electronically is free, fast, and secure! Plus there’s an added bonus: when you file electronically, you receive an extra month to file because electronically filed W-2s aren’t due until March 31.

You’ll also receive an electronic receipt. And when you enter your W-2 information online, you can simultaneously print out the W-2s for your employees.

Learn more at socialsecurity.gov/employer.

Does Social Security have any tips at this time of year for those filing their taxes? Yes. We encourage you to carefully check: your name, Social Security number, and all data on your W-2s; your online Social Security Statement; and your Social Security card to make sure they all match.

If you don’t have access to your card or statement but know your Social Security number, make sure the number and information is correct on your W-2s. A mismatch could delay your tax refund and cause problems with your Social Security benefits in the future.

Such errors are much easier to fix early on. If you do notice an error, contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), or if the information on the W-2 is incorrect, notify your employer.

For more information about Social Security visit socialsecurity.gov.

Ed Evans is a Social Security Public Affairs Specialist in Seattle

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