Do Annuities Pass Tax-Free?

Shawn Plummer, CRPC

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

Do Annuities Pass Tax-Free?

No, annuities do not pass tax-free. When a beneficiary receives an annuity payment, it often contains a mix of principal and earnings. The principal part, the original investment, is typically not taxed. However, the earnings or growth part of the payment is subject to income tax.

Understanding the Taxation of Annuities

  1. Principal vs. Earnings:
    • Principal: The amount initially invested, not taxed, when passed to a beneficiary.
    • Earnings: The interest or investment growth, taxed as income to the beneficiary.
  2. Different Types of Annuities:
  3. Death Benefits:
    • If the annuity holder passes away, beneficiaries may receive a death benefit.
    • The taxation of this benefit depends on whether it exceeds the principal amount.

Tax Implications for Beneficiaries

  • Lump-Sum Payments: If beneficiaries choose a lump-sum payout, they may owe significant taxes in the year they receive it.
  • Annuitized Payments: Spreading payments over time can reduce the annual tax burden.

Considerations for Annuity Holders

  • Estate Planning: Annuities should be considered in estate planning for potential tax implications.
  • Consult a financial advisor: Given the complexity, consulting a financial advisor is advisable.

Taxation of Annuity Payments

Payment TypePrincipal AmountEarningsTaxation
Lump-SumNot TaxedTaxedIncome Tax on Earnings
Regular PaymentNot TaxedTaxedSpread Over Payments


Annuities offer a way to receive regular income or leave a financial legacy, but they do not pass tax-free. Understanding the distinction between principal and earnings is crucial for grasping their tax implications. It’s important to consider these factors in your financial planning. For more detailed advice tailored to your specific situation, contact us today for a free quote.

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Shawn Plummer, CRPC

Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor

Shawn Plummer is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, 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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