Taxation of Retirement Benefits - Pensions and Annuities in header of articles
Taxation of Retirement Benefits - Pensions and Annuities in content page of articles
These distributions from your retirement plan are fully taxable:
All contributions your company made into your retirement plan
Pre-tax contributions you made, since you didn't pay taxes on your contributions when you made them (Ex: contributions to a 401(k) plan)
After-tax contributions you make into a retirement plan are tax-free upon distribution. This is true since you paid taxes on the contributions when you made them.
The IRS has several methods for figuring the taxable portion of your distribution. The method used depends upon the year you start receiving your retirement.
The simplified method allows you to figure the tax-free part of each annuity payment. If you’ve made some after-tax contributions, divide your cost by the total number of anticipated monthly payments. For an annuity not payable for life, this number is the number of monthly annuity payments under the contract.
For an annuity payable for life, this number is based upon the age you started receiving the annuity, and is determined from this table:
Use Table 1 for single life payments and Table 2 for joint life payments.
If your age at the annuity starting date was:
Number of payments for tax purposes if your annuity start date was before Nov. 19, 1996
Number of payments for tax purposes if your annuity start date was after Nov. 19, 1996
55 or under
71 or older
If the combined ages on the annuity starting date were:
Number of payments for tax payments
110 or under
141 or older
Ex: Rosie retired in 2006 at age 66. She’d made a total of $12,600 after-tax contributions to her single life retirement plan. To figure how much of each annuity payment she can exclude from taxable income, she refers to the table to find the number of payments.
Rosie figures the amount she can exclude by dividing her after-tax contributions ($12,600) by the number of payments (210). So, she can exclude $60 of each payment from her taxable income:
$12,600 (after-tax contributions) / 210 (number of payments) = $60 (amount excluded from taxable income)
After you recover all of your after-tax contributions, you can’t exclude any other benefits from tax. However, the rules differ for those who die before recovering all contributions. In that case, the person completing the deceased's taxes can deduct the remaining contributions on the final return.
You can use the simplified method if your pension or annuity meets all these requirements:
The payments are for the annuitant's life or the joint lives of the annuitant and a beneficiary. The payments must be from 1 of these:
Stock bonus plan
Qualified employee annuity plan
Tax-sheltered annuity plan (403(b) plan)
The annuitant must be under age 75 when the payments begin. If 75 or older, the guaranteed payments must last fewer than 5 years.
Distributions you receive from annuities you purchased with after-tax money will have a portion that’s tax-free. Only the premiums you paid are excluded from tax. The Form 1099-R the insurance company sends you should show you the taxable amount.
If you buy a commercial annuity, you can't use the simplified method to calculate the tax-free portion of each payment. You must calculate the tax-free portion by using the ratio of your cost divided by your total expected return.
To learn more, see IRS Publication 575: Pension and Annuity Income.