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"It's also worth pointing out that while it may be taxed from 0% to 85%, it isn't on a sliding scale. It's either 0%, 50% or 85%"

Where did you get that? It is very much a sliding scale. 28.3% of mine was taxed for 2012. In 2011 it was close to 60%. 85% is the max that can be taxed. 0% is the least. But it could be anything in between depending on your income.
You're both right - sort of. SS Benefits can be taxed partly at 0 and partly at 50%, OR partly at 50% and partly at 85%, which can end up with the percentage subject to tax being almost anything.

No!!! Let's be precise in our use of the English language. Depending on your income level either 0%, 50% or 85% of your Socisl Security benefits are subject to income tax. The amount subject to tax may be a blended percentage as you cross certain income level thresholds.

The tax rate that is applied to the reportable social security benefits is the same as your regular income tax rate which ranges from 0% to 35% (t/y 2012)

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