Alabama Tax Laws for Retirement & Social Security

by Beverly Bird ; Updated April 19, 2017

Alabama enjoys the distinction of being one of the most tax-friendly states in the country. This is particularly true if you’re a retiree looking to settle down and enjoy the fruits of your lifetime’s labor. Although not all your retirement plans are tax-free in the state, the majority are. Alabama offers some other tax breaks for retirees as well.

Social Security

As of the time of publication, 27 states and the District of Columbia declined to tax Social Security benefits. Alabama is one of them. Your entire Social Security income is yours to keep if you live in this state.

Government Pensions

Alabama dos not impose income taxes on government pensions. Under the state’s laws, government pensions include a wide array of plans, including military, civil service, police, firefighters’, railroad, teachers’, veterans’ and all federal pensions. If you worked for a municipality, local government pensions are also exempt from income tax.

Private Pensions

Alabama is a little pickier regarding private pensions. Only defined benefit plans are exempt from taxation. Generally, government pensions are defined pension plans, but some large corporate employers offer them as well. In these plans, your employer makes all the contributions based on how long you worked for the company and how much you earned while you remained employed there. All other retirement plans are subject to income tax, including annuity income and tax-deferred plans once you tap into them. Interest income is also taxable, except that which is generated by government bonds.

Related Taxes

If your retirement plan doesn’t qualify as a government pension and is not a defined benefit plan, you’ll pay 5 percent on the income over $3,000 each year, or $6000 if you’re married and file your tax return jointly. The percentage decreases if your pension payments are less than that. You have to file a return in Alabama if your income exceeds $4,000, or $10,500 if you’re married and filing jointly. If you’re over the age of 65, you don’t have to pay any state property taxes, but some individual cities impose property taxes. Depending on where you live, you might not escape this tax entirely. Alabama’s sales tax is only 4 percent as of the time of publication, but there’s a 10 cent tax on every prescription sold. Local municipalities have the right to charge their own sales taxes, over and above the state sales tax, if they choose.

About the Author

Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1983. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.