How Much Tax Will I Pay If I Cash Out My Annuity?

Shawn Plummer

CEO, The Annuity Expert

Navigating the financial labyrinth can be tricky, especially when making significant financial decisions. Many individuals grapple with one common question: “How much tax will I pay if I cash out my annuity?” As much as this query may sound complicated, don’t worry – we’re here to simplify it for you by understanding the three primary taxation areas – federal income tax, state income tax, and early withdrawal penalties.

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Federal Income Tax on Annuity Withdrawals

The federal government views the earnings from your annuity as income. As a result, when you decide to cash out, those earnings are taxed at ordinary income tax rates, not capital gains rates.

Example: Let’s imagine you have an annuity with a principal amount of $50,000; over time, it grows to $70,000. If you decide to cash out the entire annuity, the original $50,000 isn’t taxed (since it’s your principal), but the $20,000 profit is subjected to federal income tax.

Differentiating Between Principal and Earnings

Remember, only the earnings from the non-qualified annuity are taxable at the federal level. Your original contribution, which is the principal, is tax-free when withdrawn. However, the entire amount of the qualified annuity is subject to federal income tax and state income tax (if applicable).

State Income Tax Implications

State income tax rules vary from state to state. Some states may tax annuity withdrawals, while others might not. It’s crucial to consult your state’s tax guidelines or speak with a tax professional within your state to get precise information.

Example: Suppose you reside in Texas, a state with no personal income tax. If you cash out your annuity, you won’t be responsible for state income tax on the earnings. However, if you were in California, you would be subject to their state income tax rates on annuity earnings.

Relocating? Know Your Tax Implications

Are you moving to a new state after purchasing an annuity? Ensure you’re updated on how the new state handles annuity withdrawals.

Early Withdrawal Penalty

If you cash out your annuity before a specific age, typically 59½, you might be subject to an early withdrawal penalty. This penalty is usually 10% of the earnings portion of the annuity and is in addition to the regular income tax.

Example: Using our previous example where the annuity profit is $20,000, if you cash out before age 59½, you might face a $2,000 (10% of $20,000) penalty on top of the federal and possible state income tax.

Exceptions to the Rule

There are specific scenarios, like disability or a series of substantially equal payments, where you might avoid the early withdrawal penalty. However, the conditions are stringent, and being fully informed is essential.

Next Steps

Cashing out your annuity has its tax implications. The overarching question of “How much tax will I pay if I cash out my annuity?” largely depends on federal tax laws, your state’s tax guidelines, and your age at the withdrawal time. Before making any hasty decisions, it’s always wise to consult with a tax professional. They can provide a comprehensive overview tailored to your situation, ensuring you choose your best financial interest. Remember, knowledge is the key to financial confidence, and by understanding these tax rules, you’re already on the right track.

How Much Tax Will I Pay If I Cash Out My Annuity

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you pay more taxes on a lump sum or an annuity?

Whether you’ll pay more taxes on a lump sum or an annuity depends on various factors like your tax bracket and the annuity’s structure. Generally, lump-sum withdrawals can push you into a higher tax bracket for that year, potentially resulting in higher taxes than taking annuity payments.

Do you pay taxes as a beneficiary of an annuity?

Yes, as a beneficiary of an annuity, you are generally subject to taxes on the gains distributed to you. The tax treatment varies depending on the type of annuity and your relationship to the original owner. Consulting a tax advisor is advisable.

What is the penalty for cashing out an annuity?

The penalty for cashing out an annuity early often involves a surrender charge, which can range from 7% to 20% in the first few years of the contract. Additionally, a 10% IRS penalty may apply if you withdraw funds before age 59½.

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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