Annuity Taxation


byNikhil Bhauwala

Tue Mar 12 2024

Author @ Inc
Annuity Taxation

In life, some things are guaranteed – the wheels of time keep turning, circumstances keep changing, and taxes are ever-present. It’s a common belief that annuities are free from tax. Although it’s true that annuities enjoy tax-deferred status, the tax story doesn’t end there. Taxes on annuities function differently compared to other retirement assets.

Knowing how taxes impact your annuities is crucial to ensure that you get what you’re entitled to. Boost your understanding of annuity taxation and secure your retirement fund by making informed financial choices.

What Is an Annuity?

Before diving into the relationship between taxes and annuities, let’s understand the nature of this retirement tool first.

An annuity is a contractual agreement between an individual and an insurance company. As per the contract, the insurer commits to providing the individual with a steady flow of monthly income in the future.

The monthly income amount and its duration are determined by the individual’s investment in the annuity and the specific annuity product they choose. For instance, investing $100,000 in a deferred annuity could lead to a steady income of $1000 per month for 20 years after retirement.

By working with your insurance provider, you can tailor an annuity plan to your desired post-retirement monthly income. The underlying principle is that a more substantial investment results in larger and longer-lasting payouts.

Are Annuities Taxable?

Now that you know what an annuity is, let’s talk about taxes. Are annuities taxable? The answer is yes and no. The funds you put into your annuity are non-taxable as long as they come from after-tax (post-tax) money. This means you don’t have to pay additional taxes for the amount you invested in your annuity.

However, taxes would start applying once you begin receiving your monthly annuity. The amount paid out is taxable and will be subject to the annual income tax rate. Moreover, you’ll incur an additional tax penalty if you withdraw your fund before the required maturity period — usually your retirement age.

This is the basic taxation logic behind annuities, but there are some cases where the taxation might differ.

How Does Tax Apply to Annuities?

Regarding tax application, the taxation of annuities depends on your age and your type of annuity. Taxes apply differently for qualified and non-qualified annuities, which we’ll explore below.

Qualified Annuity Taxation

A qualified annuity is funded with pre-tax funds or funds without tax treatments, such as contributions from IRAs, 401(k) accounts, or other tax-deferred savings.

These annuities are also referred to as tax-deferred annuities since you can deduct your contribution and defer taxes until you begin taking payouts. The payouts received from qualified annuities will be considered taxable income.

The tax application for qualified annuities is what we described earlier. Unlike most saving accounts, where you’re taxed for the interest you earn annually, qualified annuities are more practical and efficient.

Non-qualified Annuity Taxation

In a non-qualified annuity, the money used to fund the annuity account comes from cash that has been declared to the IRS and has already been deducted. A non-qualified annuity allows you to contribute without limits. Moreover, the IRS will not treat your payouts as taxable income.

In a non-qualified annuity, you will only be taxed for the interest earned, which completely contrasts with the qualified annuity. The amount of taxes deducted from a non-qualified annuity is based on the exclusion ratio.

The exclusion ratio determines how much of your annuity payouts are considered interest income and, in turn, taxable. The formula used to calculate the exclusion ratio is the total premium paid divided by the expected return.

Are Annuity Withdrawals Taxable?

By now, you already know that only the payout is taxable in qualified annuities, and the interest earned is taxable in non-qualified annuities. However, what if you withdraw your annuity funds before the maturity period? How will the IRS treat this situation?

Generally, you may owe taxes for withdrawing your annuity funds before the required maturity period. The annuity withdrawal taxation depends on the type of annuity you have and your insurance company. In most cases, you might incur a 10% tax penalty for any annuity withdrawal before retirement.

Is There an Inheritance Tax for Annuities?

If you pass away and have annuity funds in your estate, then the beneficiary would receive the balance, including any growth accumulated over time. However, depending on the type of annuity, there might be federal or state inheritance tax.

In most cases, the IRS will treat the annuity as a lump sum payment and tax it as regular income. The beneficiary would have to pay taxes under their filing status, meaning they would face the same rate of taxation as if they had received a check from the IRS.

Can You Avoid or Minimize Tax Impacts on Your Annuity?

As you can see, it’s impossible to avoid paying taxes regarding annuities. However, there are strategies you can implement to minimize the tax burden associated with your annuity account.

One way to minimize tax implications is by spreading the payouts over a long period. This will allow you to keep your taxable income to a minimum and remain below different tax brackets or other relevant tax thresholds.

Another way to minimize your annuity taxation is by investing in non-qualified annuities. As previously stated, non-qualified annuities aren’t taxed as monthly income but only the interest earned. This is helpful if you want to receive your payouts without deductions.

Find the Best Annuity Rates Today

When you retire, the last thing you want to worry about is taxes draining your only income source. That’s why it’s essential to find a reliable and reputable insurance company that offers competitive rates for their products.

At, we compare all the available options and find the best match for you. We take out the nitty-gritty, so you can easily and confidently make the best decision for your retirement. Find your best match now and start your retirement right!