Social Security 2022: How Taxable Income Will Increase in Relation to COLA

Front view of eldery man landscaping and taking care of plants in garden.
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Retirees who remember what it was like to pay more income taxes for higher earnings will get a reminder of that next year, as the 5.9% increase in Social Security payments will be accompanied by a higher income tax obligation.

See: Social Security Benefits 2022 — How Medicare Will Significantly Impact Those Earning Less
Find: Social Security Schedule — When the First COLA Checks Will Arrive in January 2022

The 5.9% cost-of-living adjustment for 2022 Social Security payments is the biggest since 1982 and was implemented to help retires deal with spiraling inflation, which has been clocking in at 6%-plus.

If you collect Social Security but still earn money through part-time work, freelance work, a side hustle or some other means, you might face a higher income tax bill along with the higher Social Security check.

As AARP recently reported, if you earn money and collect Social Security retirement benefits before you reach full retirement age, the Social Security Administration may withhold $1 in benefits for every $2 in earnings that exceed the income threshold. In 2021, the threshold was $18,960 a year. That threshold will rise to $19,560 a year in 2022.

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Find: Social Security — When Your Provisional Income Can Lead to 100% Tax-Free Benefits

During the year you reach full retirement age, the SSA will withhold $1 for every $3 you earn above the limit. That limit was $50,520 a year in 2021 and will increase to $51,960 a year in 2022. The SSA stops withholding money the month you reach full retirement age.

As AARP noted, Social Security is funded by a 6.2% tax on employees, which is matched by a 6.2% tax from employers, with self-employed individuals paying a 12.4% combined tax. Those rates won’t be changing in 2022, but the amount of income subject to the tax will rise in line with the COLA.

In 2021, you paid Social Security tax on up to $142,800 of taxable earnings. That limit will increase to $147,000 in 2022.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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