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Tax Relief Proposed for MN's Social Security Recipients

PHOTO: AARP Minnesota State Director Will Phillips (at podium) joined lawmakers to introduce a proposal to eliminate state income taxes on Social Security benefits. Photo credit: Seth Boffeli.
PHOTO: AARP Minnesota State Director Will Phillips (at podium) joined lawmakers to introduce a proposal to eliminate state income taxes on Social Security benefits. Photo credit: Seth Boffeli.
January 21, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. - With the economy growing stronger and a big budget surplus, tax reform is high on the docket at the State Legislature this session, including a proposal to eliminate income taxes on Social Security benefits.

Currently, Minnesota is one of just seven states where Social Security income is taxed to the fullest extent allowable, but Republican State Senator Dave Senjem of Rochester has proposed phasing that out entirely.

"On an eight-year basis, it would eliminate taxation of Social Security," Senjem says. "That's the bill we'll introduce. If we have to take it a little longer, I've got a 10-year bill as well. It's a matter of equity and competitiveness and frankly, taking care of our seniors."

In Minnesota, there are more than 900,000 people, most of them senior citizens, who receive Social Security payments with the average benefit of just over $15,000 a year.

By eliminating the taxes on those benefits, Will Phillips, state director of AARP Minnesota, says the annual savings would average around $1,000, which could be vital as cost-of-living increases are not keeping up with the growing costs for groceries, utility bills and medications.

"The vast majority of our members want to live with independence and they want to stay in their homes and communities for as long as they possibly can," says Phillips. "Without a secure financial footing, that becomes more and more of a challenge."

Statewide, the number of older adults who now live in poverty is one out of every seven.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN