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30,000 North Dakotans to Pay Less Income Tax in 2020

About 1 in 4 Social Security recipients in North Dakota relies on the money for 90% or more of their income. (Adobe Stock)
About 1 in 4 Social Security recipients in North Dakota relies on the money for 90% or more of their income. (Adobe Stock)
December 31, 2019

BISMARCK, N.D. -- With the holidays coming to a close, some folks already are gearing up for another stressful time: tax season. But some North Dakotans could find it a bit easier to pay Uncle Sam in 2020.

About 30,000 older adults will no longer have to pay a state income tax on their Social Security benefits after what was a dramatic chain of events at the statehouse. A full repeal of income tax on Social Security benefits was given Do Not Pass recommendations by legislative committees.

AARP North Dakota Volunteer State President Kathi Schwan explained Senate leadership reconsidered after hundreds of people spoke out in support of the bill.

"What we did, as kind of a 'Hail Mary,' is to send out notifications via text and email to members and friends of AARP and said, 'This is going to be voted on,'" Schwan said. "And we were overwhelmed that it actually passed."

The new law was signed by Gov. Doug Burgum in May. It repeals the tax for individuals making $50,000 or less a year or married couples who earn $100,000 or less annually and are filing jointly.

Of the 125,000 North Dakotans who receive Social Security, nearly half rely on the benefit for 50% or more of their income. And for about 1 in 4, it accounts for 90% or more of their income.

Schwan said she heard stories from people around the state who will benefit from the tax repeal - including a stranger in a check-out line.

"She said 'When you're in your 80s, you're still working full time, you depend on Social Security for your rent, your insurance and the supplemental plan and medication,'" Schwan recounted. "She says 'I just can't afford not to work. And every little bit helps.' And she says, 'This will even help me, too."

Prior to the bill passing, North Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia were the only states to tax Social Security benefits at the full federal rate.

Disclosure: AARP North Dakota contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - ND