An annuity is simply a “series of payments made at equal intervals.” That means that your mortgage, insurance, savings, and pension are all annuities. Mostly what makes something an annuity is the regularity of the payments. But the kind of annuity we are talking about here is the kind of long-term investment where you pay into it over time, and then you collect payments from it over time – often for life.
How Annuities Work
Usually, the funds that are paid into the investment are tax-deferred until you start accepting annuity payments. The taxes you pay are only regular income taxes too, which means that you pay taxes on the income just like you would any other income you receive. However, you can purchase annuities with after-tax money too. If you do that, you don’t have to pay taxes when you receive it until you receive your principal back. All earnings from annuities are subject to ordinary income tax.
The two types of annuities, immediate and deferred, both require you to pay ordinary income tax on your earnings. An immediate annuity is when you give the entire principal to the insurance company, and then they invest the money and set up equal payments to you for your whole life right away with no waiting.
As mentioned above, you can also buy an annuity with after-tax money – in which case only a portion after your principal is taxable. The deferred annuity means that you may not receive payment for several years while you keep investing your money and let the money keep growing tax-deferred until retirement. After that, the rules are the same; you pay taxes on the income you receive from each payout.
Ordinary Income Tax
You only pay taxes on your earnings at the ordinary income tax rate. What’s really exciting about this is that once you retire, your income will go down as you won’t have income from working. You may then be receiving social security retirement, your annuity, and other investment payouts. But at least on the annuities, you’ll only pay ordinary income tax on your earnings.
Annuities are a good idea if you believe you’re going to need a set income for life. You will pay ordinary income taxes on it and you don’t get a better deal than you’d get if it were considered capital gains, but you do get a safe investment that guarantees you money for life. It’s all dependent on what risk level you like to take on investments. And, as always, it’s a good idea to diversify your investments so that you have many options when you retire. As to how annuities are taxed in states versus the federal government in the USA, you will have to check with your state as it’s different in each one.