Understanding Annuity Withdrawal Penalties

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Navigating the Costs of Early Withdrawal

Withdrawing from an annuity can feel like navigating a complex maze, but understanding the potential costs makes the journey smoother. Let’s break down what these penalties involve and how they impact your finances.

Surrender Charges: The Immediate Impact

  • What are they? These are fees imposed by the annuity provider if you withdraw funds before a specified period, usually within the first 5-7 years of your contract.
  • How do they affect you? Surrender charges can significantly reduce the amount you receive. They typically start high and gradually decrease each year.
  • Example: If your annuity has a 7% surrender charge and you withdraw $10,000 in the first year, you’ll pay $700 in fees.

IRS Early Withdrawal Penalties: The Tax Angle

  • What are they? If you’re under 59 ½ years old, the IRS imposes a 10% penalty on early withdrawals from annuities.
  • How do they affect you? This penalty is in addition to any ordinary income tax you owe on the withdrawn amount.
  • Example: Withdrawing $10,000 at age 55 means you’ll pay a $1,000 IRS penalty plus your regular income tax on this amount.

Annual Penalty-Free Withdrawal: A Glimmer of Hope

  • What is it? Many annuities allow you to withdraw a certain percentage (usually 10%) of your account value each year without surrender charges.
  • How can you use it? This feature provides some liquidity in case of emergencies or unexpected needs.

Making Smart Choices

  • Assess Your Needs: Consider why you’re withdrawing and if it’s worth the cost.
  • Plan Ahead: Utilize the annual penalty-free amount to minimize fees.
  • Consult Professionals: Talk to a financial advisor to understand the implications of your withdrawal.

Annuity Withdrawal Penalties at a Glance

Year of WithdrawalSurrender Charge %Effective Amount Lost on $10,000 WithdrawalIRS Penalty if Under 59 ½
1st Year7%$700$1,000
2nd Year6%$600$1,000
3rd Year5%$500$1,000
4th Year4%$400$1,000
5th Year3%$300$1,000
6th Year2%$200$1,000
7th Year and Beyond0%$0$1,000*

*Assuming the individual is still under 59 ½ years old.


Understanding annuity withdrawal penalties is crucial in making informed financial decisions. Remember, withdrawing early can lead to substantial costs through surrender charges and IRS penalties. Always weigh your immediate financial needs against these potential costs. Our guide aims to empower you with the knowledge to navigate these decisions confidently. Contact us today for a free quote.

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Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Shawn Plummer is a licensed financial professional, insurance agent, and annuity broker with over 14 years of first-hand experience with annuities and insurance. Since beginning his journey in 2009, he has been pivotal in selling and educating about annuities and insurance products. Still, he has also played an instrumental role in training financial advisors for a prestigious Fortune Global 500 insurance company, Allianz. His insights and expertise have made him a sought-after voice in the industry, leading to features in renowned publications such as Time Magazine, Bloomberg, Entrepreneur, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, Women’s Health Magazine, and many more. Shawn’s driving ambition? To simplify retirement planning, he ensures his clients understand their choices and secure the best insurance coverage at unbeatable rates.

The Annuity Expert is an independent online insurance agency servicing consumers across the United States. The goal is to help you take the guesswork out of retirement planning and find the best insurance coverage at the cheapest rates

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