annuities

How to Calculate the Tax Bill on Withdrawals from Variable Annuities

Some or all of your withdrawals could be taxed, depending on how you made your initial investment and how you’re pulling money out.

Question: I invested $150,000 in a variable annuity about 15 years ago and haven’t taken any withdrawals yet. Now that I’m in my late sixties, I’d like to start tapping the account, which is now worth about $210,000. How will the withdrawals be taxed?

Answer:

Variable annuities aren’t taxed until you withdraw the money. The amount that will be taxed depends on the way you made your initial investment and the way you take withdrawals.

If all of the money you invested was pretax or tax-deductible (for example, if you bought the annuity within a 401(k) or traditional IRA), all of your withdrawals will be subject to income taxes. But if you invested using after-tax dollars, the earnings will be taxed as income, and the rest will be a tax-free return of principal.

However, the way your earnings and principal are calculated depends on how you take the withdrawals. Say you cash in the entire annuity for a lump sum. You’ll have to pay income taxes on all of the earnings in one year – in your case, $60,000 of the $210,000. But if you withdraw some of the money and keep the rest growing in the account, your first withdrawals will be considered taxable earnings. Once you’ve pulled out all of the earnings, any further withdrawals will be considered a tax-free return of principal. Your insurer will calculate the portion of principal and earnings for each withdrawal.

Most Popular

Why Are Gas Prices Still Going Up?
spending

Why Are Gas Prices Still Going Up?

The cost of a gallon of gas is at an all-time high. What’s driving the surge and will gas prices go down anytime soon?
May 23, 2022
Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
Which States' Taxes Are Going Down
Tax Breaks

Which States' Taxes Are Going Down

State lawmakers are cutting income, sales and property taxes to return budget surpluses to residents.
May 25, 2022

Recommended

Will a Gas Tax Holiday or Suspension Lower Gas Prices Near You?
Tax Breaks

Will a Gas Tax Holiday or Suspension Lower Gas Prices Near You?

One way to bring down the price of gasoline is to establish a gas tax holiday. But will Uncle Sam, or your state government, suspend the gas taxes tha…
May 27, 2022
Where's My Refund? How to Track Your Tax Refund Status
tax refunds

Where's My Refund? How to Track Your Tax Refund Status

The IRS has an online tool that lets you track the status of your tax refund.
May 25, 2022
Which States' Taxes Are Going Down
Tax Breaks

Which States' Taxes Are Going Down

State lawmakers are cutting income, sales and property taxes to return budget surpluses to residents.
May 25, 2022
Buying Annuities in Your 401(k)
Financial Planning

Buying Annuities in Your 401(k)

More plans are offering annuities that could provide income in retirement. Here’s what you need to know.
May 24, 2022