How Are Annuities Taxed? Which Annuity Has The Lowest Taxes?

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

If you’re considering an annuity, one of the first questions you’ll want to ask is how they are taxed. The answer may surprise you, as annuities can be taxed differently. This guide will discuss how annuities are taxed and help you understand exactly how they are taxed. We will also provide a complete guide to understanding annuity taxation so that you can make the best decision for your needs!

Are Annuities Taxable?

The first question you might have is whether or not annuities are taxable. Annuities are often taxable. The taxation of annuities depends on the type of annuity and how it was funded. The exception is the Roth IRA annuity.

How Are Annuities Taxed?

The money in your annuity will grow tax-deferred, so you will not have to pay taxes on your investment growth until you start withdrawing. This can be a significant advantage, as it allows your money to grow without being taxed yearly. Annuity withdrawal taxes will be taxed as ordinary income. This means you will pay the same tax rate on your withdrawals as you would on any other type of income, such as wages from a job.

Qualified Vs. Non-Qualified Annuities

When it comes to saving for retirement, there are a few different options to choose from. One option is to invest in an annuity. Annuities can be either qualified or non-qualified, and each has its own set of rules and tax implications.

  • Qualified annuities are funded with pre-tax dollars and are not taxed until you begin making withdrawals. At that point, 100% of the withdrawals are subject to ordinary income tax rates.
  • Because Roth IRA annuities are funded with after-tax dollars, withdrawals are not subject to ordinary income taxes (as long as IRS rules are followed)
  • Non-qualified annuities, on the other hand, are also funded with already-taxed money, and only the earnings are taxed when withdrawn.
  • Qualified annuity contributions are tax-deductible, while non-qualified annuity and Roth IRA contributions are not.

Which Annuity Requires The Least Amount Of Taxes?

  • Roth IRA Annuity: Roth IRA annuities are funded with after-tax dollars. As a result, all withdrawals, including earnings and principal, are completely tax-free. This can significantly affect the amount of money you have available in retirement and your overall tax liability.
  • Non-Qualified Annuity: A non-qualified annuity is a type of investment account that allows you to save for retirement on a tax-deferred basis. This means that you don’t have to pay taxes on the money you contribute to the annuity, but you will have to pay taxes on any interest the annuity earns. Unlike a Roth IRA, there are no contribution limits for a non-qualified annuity.
  • Long-Term Care Annuities: Income from a long-term care annuity is tax-free if the withdrawals are used for qualified long-term care services and facilities.

How Much Tax Do You pay On Annuity Income?

Income from an annuity is taxed as ordinary income, which means that you will pay the same tax rate on your withdrawals as you would on any other type of income, such as wages from a job. However, the amount of tax you will pay will depend on your marginal tax bracket.

Qualified AnnuityRoth AnnuityNon-Qualified Annuity
Funded WithPre-taxed MoneyAfter-Tax MoneyAfter-Tax Money
Withdrawals100% TaxableTax-FreeInterest-Only Taxed (LIFO)
Annuitized Payments100% TaxableTax-FreeExclusion Ratio
RMDSYesNoNo

Early Withdrawal Penalties

You may be subject to early withdrawal penalties if you take withdrawals from your annuity before you reach retirement age. The penalty amount will depend on the type of annuity you have and the rules of your particular plan.

  • Qualified Annuities: If you have a qualified annuity, you may be subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty on the entire withdrawal amount if you withdraw before you reach 59 ½ years old. This penalty is in addition to ordinary income taxes.
  • Non-Qualified Annuities: If you have a non-qualified qualified annuity, you may be subject to a 10% early withdrawal penalty on any interest earned if you take withdrawals before 59 ½ years old. This penalty is in addition to ordinary income taxes (earnings withdrawn).

How can I avoid paying taxes on annuities?

There are three ways to avoid paying taxes on annuities, purchasing a Roth Annuity or Charitable Gift Annuity for retirement income and a long-term care annuity to pay for qualified long-term care facilities and services. Finally, most structured settlements are income-tax-free.

Roth IRA Annuity

A Roth annuity is a type of qualified annuity funded with after-tax dollars. This means you cannot deduct the contribution amount from your taxes. However, the money in your Roth annuity will grow tax-free, and you will not have to pay taxes on your withdrawals as long as you meet the requirements for a qualified withdrawal.

To make a qualified withdrawal from a Roth annuity per the IRS, you must meet two requirements:

  • First, you must have held the annuity for at least five years.
  • You must be age 59½ or older, or you must be disabled or deceased.

Long-Term Care Annuity

A long-term care annuity is an annuity that is used to pay for qualified long-term care facilities and services. The money in a long-term care annuity can be used to pay for any long-term care, including in-home care, nursing home care, and assisted living.

The money used for long-term care services is not subject to taxation. However, if money is withdrawn for personal uses, some or all of the withdrawal is subject to taxation. The tax-free benefit only applies to non-qualified annuities.

Charitable Gift Annuity

A charitable gift annuity (CGA) is a concept whereby a donor makes a gift of money or property to a charity, and the charity gives back an agreed-upon income stream (via an annuity) to the donor for the remainder of their life or joint lives. Annuity payments are tax-free partial returns of the donor’s gift based on actuarial life expectancy tables.

How does retirement annuity reduce tax?

A non-qualified annuity is an annuity that is not funded with qualified retirement plan dollars (401(k), IRA). Only the earnings on the annuity are taxed when you start taking withdrawals. You will not have to pay taxes on your contributions, and you can take withdrawals at any time without penalty (contributions only).

Last In First Out (LIFO)

The Last In First Out taxation method is used when money is withdrawn from an annuity or a lifetime income rider to distribute income (not annuitization).

This is the method used to calculate the order in which withdrawals are taken from an annuity. With this method, the earnings are withdrawn first, and the contributions are withdrawn last. This is advantageous if the earnings have grown significantly because only the earnings will be subject to taxation.

Exclusion Ratio

The exclusion ratio taxation method is used when annuity contracts are annuitized to distribute annuity payments. Annuitization is the process of converting a lump sum of money into an irrevocable stream of income. The Lottery and pension plans use annuitization to distribute the income to recipients.

The exclusion ratio taxation method determines what percentage of annuity income payments is taxable and how much is not. This percentage represents the portion of your payment excluded from gross income and, therefore, not subject to ordinary income tax. The exclusion ratio is calculated by dividing the premium by the expected return.

Are there tax consequences when an annuity is assigned?

An annuity can be assigned to another person, but there may be tax consequences.

If an annuity is assigned to someone other than the original owner, the new owner will be taxed on the earnings in the annuity. The original owner will not be taxed on the earnings.

The tax consequences of an assignment depend on whether the annuity is qualified or non-qualified.

If the annuity is qualified, such as an IRA, the earnings in the account will not be taxed when withdrawn. However, if the annuity is non-qualified, the earnings in the account will be taxed when withdrawn.

Spouses

An annuity can be assigned to a spouse without triggering any tax consequences. However, an annuity cannot be assigned to a child or other dependent without triggering tax consequences.

Surrendering The Annuity

When an annuity is surrendered, the policyholder will owe taxes on the earnings in the account. In addition, the policyholder will also owe taxes on any contributions deducted from their taxes.

The tax consequences of surrendering an annuity depend on whether the annuity is qualified or non-qualified.

Inherited Annuity Taxation

An inherited annuity is an annuity that is passed down to a beneficiary after the death of the original owner.

Beneficiaries will pay income tax on annuities. The tax consequences of an inherited annuity depend on whether the annuity is qualified or non-qualified.

Regarding the taxation of an annuity death benefit, the entire amount in the account is taxable when withdrawn if the inherited annuity is a qualified annuity, such as an IRA. However, if the inherited annuity is non-qualified, only the earnings in the account will be taxed when withdrawn.

If you are an annuity owner wanting to leave money to your beneficiaries tax-free, life insurance might be a better option. You don’t have to take a medical examination in some cases. Compare free life insurance quotes to find affordable coverage.

Next Steps

If you are ready to purchase an annuity, it is essential to understand the tax implications. Roth annuities are not taxable, so they may be a better option if you expect to be in a higher tax bracket when you start withdrawing. However, all other types of annuities are taxable, so you will want to factor this into your decision-making process. When you are ready, request a quote, and one of our experts will help walk you through the process.

How Are Annuities Taxed? Is The Income From An Annuity Taxable? Is There A Tax-Free Annuity?

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Frequently Asked Questions

During the payout period of an annuity, the interest portion of the payment is

During the payout period of an annuity, the interest portion of the payment is taxed as ordinary income. During the payout period of an annuity, the interest portion of the payment is taxed as ordinary income.

Are retirement annuities taxable?

Withdrawals from qualified annuities are taxed as ordinary income on the entire distribution. Withdrawals from non-qualified annuities are taxed as ordinary income on the earnings in the account. Income from a Roth annuity is tax-free.

Is there a tax-free annuity?

With a Roth IRA annuity, you contribute after-tax dollars to your account, and all future growth is tax-free.

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

I’m a licensed financial professional focusing on annuities and insurance for more than a decade. My former role was training financial advisors, including for a Fortune Global 500 insurance company. I’ve been featured in Time Magazine, Yahoo! Finance, MSN, SmartAsset, Entrepreneur, Bloomberg, The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report, and Women’s Health Magazine.

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

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