The Tax Deferred Annuity

Tax Deferred AnnuityBy Tristan Ellis, Staff Writer

A tax deferred annuity is a plan in which income tax on an original deposit of invested income is not charged during the investment period. The tax liability is deferred until the owner or beneficiary begins to receive (or accesses funds) periodic payments of earnings from the invested funds. This benefit is known as tax deferral or deferred annuity.

Tax Sheltered Annuities

One of the most attractive features of a tax sheltered annuity is a tax advantage known as a deferral. Tax deferral is allowed as long as the funds in the annuity are kept intact and not touched by the sheltered annuity owner. The interest or earnings credited to the annuity grow and accumulate, tax deferred, sheltered until the funds in the annuity are accessed, either by the sheltered annuity owner or their designated beneficiary. The accumulated funds in the annuity can then be accessed as needed as a pension or supplemental income for the owner or beneficiaries’ income needs.

The original deposits or the last funds to be removed from an annuity are never taxed, as the liability is only assessed on the accumulated tax deferred portion. Tools can assist the owner in managing the future tax liability of a deferred annuity, and using these tools, the annuity owner can shelter tax liability and use the future accumulated value as an income option. If the funds are merely removed, the full tax liability of the funds is due.

A partial removal of the tax deferred results in appropriate tax liabilities on the amount removed. But when the sheltered annuity owner uses the funds in a tax deferred annuity as income with a fixed payment option, the tax liability can be managed and spread over a time period chosen by the sheltered annuity owner.

Income Tax on Annuities

This method of spreading the sheltered liability over a chosen time period is known as the exclusion ratio, or income option, and allows the annuity owner control over the sheltered liability. The actual amount of taxable income and tax free income (the refund of original deposit) is calculated by the insurance company when the annuity owner initiates a fixed payment period option. The amount of sheltered tax liability varies, based on the amount of the original deposit, the accumulated earnings and the income option selected by the annuity owner.

In the event an annuity is inherited by a beneficiary, the full sheltered liability of the accumulated interest in a tax sheltered or deferred annuity passes to the beneficiary. If the funds are removed in a lump sum, 100% of the sheltered liability is realized, but the IRS allows for a delay of up to five years in the beneficiaries receipt of income from the sheltered annuity, which allows for tax planning fitting the beneficiaries specific needs and situation.