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Tool | September 2014

State-by-State Guide to Taxes on Retirees

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The Bottom Line
Map of Alabama


The Yellowhammer State is very tax-friendly to retirees. Most retirement income, including Social Security, is exempt from state income taxes. Homeowners 65 and older don't pay state property taxes, but some cities and counties apply their own property levies.

State Sales Tax

4% statewide. But the average rate is about 8.5%, thanks to city and county taxes. Alabama is one of the few states that does not exempt food from sales taxes (and imposes a 3% sales tax on food and 4% sales tax on drinks that come from a vending machine). But it does exempt prescription drugs and insulin-related items.

Income Tax Range

Low: 2% (on up to $1,000 of taxable income for married joint filers and up to $500 for all others)

High: 5% (on more than $6,000 of taxable income for married joint filers and more than $3,000 for all others)

Alabama also allows residents to deduct all of their federal income tax from state taxable income.

Social Security

Benefits are not taxed.

Exemptions for Other Retirement Income

Military, civil-service, state and local government, and qualified private pensions are exempt. Out-of-state government pensions are tax-exempt if they are defined-benefit plans. Distributions from IRAs and employer-based defined-contribution plans, such as 401(k)s and 403(b) plans, are taxable.

Property Taxes

Alabama's state property tax rate is 0.65%. Each city and county may levy its own property tax. To calculate the property tax bill, residential property is assessed at 10% of the property's appraised value.

Median property tax on the state's median home value of $119,600 is $398, according to the Tax Foundation.

Tax breaks for seniors: Homeowners 65 and older are exempt from all state property taxes. Some cities assess separate property taxes. Seniors age 65 and older with taxable income of $12,000 or less on their federal return may qualify for an exemption from county and city taxes with no maximum amount. Seniors age 65 and older with taxable income of more than $12,000 on their federal return but less than $12,000 adjusted gross income on their state return qualify for an exemption of $5,000 of assessed value from their county taxes. Seniors who don't meet the above income limitations may qualify for a county homestead exemption worth no more than $2,000.

Inheritance and
Estate Taxes

There is no inheritance tax or estate tax.


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