Are Annuities Taxable? Annuity Taxation Explained

Christian Worstell
In this article...
  • Learn how qualified and non-qualified annuities are taxed. Explore the exclusion ratio, Form 1099-R and more in this guide to understanding annuity taxation.

Understanding annuity taxation is essential in order to make smart financial decisions and to get the best out of your investment. Annuities are taxable, but in different ways.

In this guide, we'll explain qualified annuity taxation and non-qualified annuity taxation, we'll explore the exclusion ratio, we'll discuss using Form 1099-R for reporting income from an annuity and we'll review Publication 575 regarding pension and other types of income tax deferral options available with an annuity plan.

Table of Contents:

Understanding Annuity Taxation

Annuities are a popular retirement savings tool that can provide income for life. However, income annuity taxation is complex, and it’s important to understand the tax rules before investing in annuity products.

Qualified annuities are tax-deferred investments, meaning you don’t pay income taxes on the money until you withdraw it. When an annuity owner withdraws funds from a qualified annuity, the annuity payments will be subject to taxation as regular income at the applicable rate. If you withdraw money from a qualified annuity before age 59 ½, there may be additional penalties assessed by the IRS.

Non-qualified annuities are not tax-deferred investments, which means they are taxed differently. Non-qualified annuity payments must be reported as taxable income each year when interest is earned or gains are made on the investment itself.

Non-qualified annuities can also come with surrender charges if you withdraw funds prior to maturity date of the annuity contract. These fees can range from 7% to 10%.

When filing taxes, you must use Form 1099-R if you took any distributions (withdrawals) from your annuity during the previous year. IRS Publication 575 provides guidance on how pension and other types of deferred compensation should be treated for taxation purposes.

Key Takeaway: Tax-deferred annuities (referred to as "qualified annuities") don't require taxation until you withdraw funds. Non-qualified annuity income must be reported as taxable income each year. Taxpayers need to use Form 1099-R when filing taxes related to an annuity, and you should calculate your exclusion ratio in order to determine how much of a total distribution needs to be taxed.

What Is the Exclusion Ratio?

The exclusion ratio determines how much of your total distribution are considered taxable income payments versus non-taxable. The ratio is based on what portion of premiums paid have already been taxed by Uncle Sam (the government).

Put simply: Exclusion Ratio = Total Premiums Paid / Current Contract Value x 100%. 

The exclusion ratio is calculated by dividing the cost basis (the amount you paid for the annuity) by the expected return on investment (the total value of payments over time). If the result is higher than 1, then no annuity revenue will be subject to taxation.

Taxpayers must report a portion of their total distribution as taxable income payments to the IRS when filing their annual tax return. The exclusion ratio is an important factor to consider when it comes to annuity tax rules. This ratio helps determine how much of your annuity income will be taxable in a given year.

For example, the cost basis of $50,000 divided by the sum of payments made over 10 years ($60,000) would yield an exclusion ratio of 0.83. This means that only 83% of your annual payment would be tax-free; the remaining 17% would be subject to ordinary income taxes at whatever rate applies to you.

The exclusion ratio for annuities is a complex calculation that requires careful consideration to ensure the most accurate taxation of your income.

Form 1099-R for Annuity Income

Form 1099-R is an important form for those receiving annuitization payments and other annuity income. It is used to report distributions from pensions, annuities, retirement or profit-sharing plans, IRAs, insurance contracts and other deferred compensation arrangements.

Form 1099-R provides you with the information needed to complete your tax return accurately when you pay taxes. It includes information such as the amount of taxable income received from a distribution, whether any taxes were withheld and what type of distribution was made (such as regular payments or lump sum).

You'll also provide details on how much of the total annuity payment should be considered ordinary income versus capital gains or losses. Additionally, Form 1099-R includes information about possible early withdrawal penalties if applicable.

It’s important to note that not all distributions are taxable; some may be exempt due to age or disability status. It’s wise to check with your financial advisor before filing your taxes each year.

For example, if you receive a qualified longevity annuity contract payout after age 59 ½ , then none of this money would be taxed until you actually start taking withdrawals from it as retirement income down the road – but only up to certain limits set by IRS rules at that time.

Form 1099-R for Annuity Income is an important form for any annuity owner preparing to pay taxes.

Key Takeaway: Form 1099-R provides essential information about annuity income, such as whether it is taxable and how much of the payment should be considered ordinary income versus capital gains or losses. Regardless of age and disability, it's wise to talk with a financial advisor before filing taxes in order to guarantee accuracy.

Publication 575 for Pension and Annuity Income

Publication 575 from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is a comprehensive guide for those receiving pension and annuity income. It provides information about qualified annuity taxation, nonqualified annuities, annuity income payments and other important tax information about annuity contracts and pensions.

One key area covered in Publication 575 are the rules regarding taxable portions of qualified retirement plans, such as 401(k)s or IRAs. This includes guidance on determining which portion of a distribution is taxable and how much tax must be paid on it. Additionally, IRS Publication 575 covers exceptions that may allow annuity owners to avoid paying taxes on some or all of their distributions, such as rollovers into another eligible plan or taking advantage of certain hardship provisions.

Once they reach the age of 70½, taxpayers must take their required minimum distributions (RMDs) from qualified retirement plans to avoid incurring penalties imposed by the IRS. Publication 575 outlines various factors used to calculate RMDs, such as life expectancy and account balance at the end of the previous year.

Tax Deferrals for Annuities

Annuities offer a unique tax deferral opportunity that can help you save for retirement. An agreement is formed between you and an insurer, in which the company pledges to make regular payments to you after retirement. The interest earned on the annuity grows tax-deferred until it is withdrawn or annuitized.

Withdrawals from a non-qualified annuity are taxed as regular income at the applicable rate. However, qualified annuities grow tax-deferred and may be taxed differently depending on how much was contributed with pre-tax dollars versus after-tax dollars.

In either case, when money is withdrawn from a qualified plan before age 59 ½, there may be additional taxes and/or penalties due to IRS tax rules.

In addition to taxation of annuity income payments, the way in which funds are paid out will also affect their income taxes.

Lump sum payments or periodic payments made over several years will both have different tax treatments applied by the IRS.

  • Lump sums are fully taxable.

  • Periodic payments may only partially include taxable amounts depending upon how much principal has been recovered prior to withdrawal or annuitization payments being made.
Key Takeaway: Non-qualified annuities are taxed differently on withdrawal than qualified annuities. Lump sum payments from an annuity are fully taxable, whereas periodic payments could include partial taxable amounts.

Annuity Taxation FAQs

Are Annuities Taxed Federally?

Annuities are generally taxed federally as ordinary income. Taxes may be due on the money acquired from an annuity, with it being counted as part of your taxable income at the federal level. However, some annuities funded with a Roth IRA or 401(k) may be exempt from tax rules when withdrawn.

Any earnings made within an annuity can also be subject to taxation depending on the type of account used for funding.

How Do I Avoid Taxes On An Annuity Withdrawal?

Withdrawals from an annuity are generally subject to income tax. Nevertheless, you can use certain investment strategies to minimize or avoid taxation on the withdrawal sum.

  • One way is to spread out the withdrawals over several years so that each year's amount falls below the IRS taxable threshold.

  • Another option is to use a 1035 exchange and rollover your annuity into another qualified plan such as an IRA, which may provide more favorable taxation terms than if you simply take a lump sum distribution from your annuity.

  • It may also be possible for those age 59 ½ or older to withdraw funds without incurring any penalty fees.

How Are Qualified Annuities Taxed?

Qualified annuities are generally taxed as ordinary income when the money is withdrawn. Annuity holders will pay taxes on any earnings that have accumulated in their accounts, and may be subject to additional tax penalties if withdrawals are made before age 59 ½.

The taxation of qualified annuities can vary depending on the type of plan purchased, so it’s important for individuals to consult a financial advisor or tax professional for advice specific to their situation.

Is Annuity Income Considered Earned Income?

No, annuity income is not considered earned income. Annuities are a type of investment which offer consistent payments over an extended period, and do not necessitate any kind of work or services to receive them.

Compensation for services or labor, such as wages, salaries, tips and bonuses are all considered forms of earned income.


When it comes to annuities, understanding the taxation rules and regulations is essential for achieving financial security. It's important to understand the exclusion ratio, Form 1099-R for reporting income from annuities, Publication 575 for pension and annuity income as well as tax deferrals associated with these investments in order to ensure that you are not overpaying on taxes.

Take control of your financial future by learning more about government benefits programs and how annuities are taxed. Get the information you need to make informed decisions for a secure retirement.

Christian Worstell
About the Author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

While at HelpAdvisor, Christian has written hundreds of articles that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. You can find Christian’s most recent articles in our blog.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at

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