Are Life Insurance Proceeds Taxable?

When you die, your assets will go to your beneficiaries. If you have any life insurance policies in place, those proceeds will be distributed to your beneficiaries as well. However, there may be some tax implications to receiving these proceeds. This article will explore the tax implications of receiving life insurance proceeds and help you determine if they are taxable. From there, you can proceed with distributing the money as needed without worrying about complex tax laws.

What is life insurance?

Life insurance proceeds are taxable if the policyholder is over 70½ years old at the time of death. If the policyholder was under 70½ years old at the time of death, the proceeds are tax-free. The life insurance proceeds are also considered a distribution from your retirement account and may be subject to 10% federal income tax and state income taxes, depending on the state in which you reside. If you are married filing jointly, your spouse’s share of life insurance proceeds is also taxable.

Types of life insurance

There are a few different types of life insurance policies that can be issued, each with its own set of benefits and tax implications. Here are the three most common types of life insurance:

Term Insurance: This type of policy lasts for a set period of time, typically 10 to 20 years. At the end of the term, the policy pay out either all or part of your accumulated benefit amount. The amount you receive depends on the terms of the policy. If you die before the term is up, your beneficiaries would receive the entire accumulated benefit amount.

Universal Life Insurance: This type of policy pays out a fixed sum upon death regardless of how long you have had it in force. The benefit amount is typically based on your age at death and whether or not you have any children dependents who would also be entitled to benefits. There is no need to sell this type of policy if you change your mind about wanting it paid out – it will continue to pay out monthly until terminated by either you or the insurer.

Annual Premium Life Insurance: This type of policy pays an annual premium and then pays a lump sum at death based on how much coverage you have had throughout the year. If you die within 12 months after having stopped making payments, your beneficiaries would only receive a fractional distribution since they were paying premiums only for yearly coverage.

How does life insurance work?

Life insurance proceeds are taxable, depending on the source of the money. If the proceeds come from a policy you purchased yourself, they’re considered taxable income. If you receive money from a life insurance policy your spouse or child inherited, that money is not taxed until you take action to distribute it. The IRS has specific rules about when and how you can take these distributions, which can add up to significant taxes if you don’t pay attention.

What are the tax implications of life insurance proceeds?

If you are the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, the proceeds may be taxable. The estate tax may also be applicable to the proceeds from a life insurance policy if the policyholder was over 55 years old when they died. If you are the payer of a life insurance policy, taxable benefits may include both the death benefit and any cash surrender value payable upon maturity of the policy.


Insurance proceeds, especially when it comes to life insurance, can be a tricky topic. On the one hand, you may feel grateful for the money that was given to you in the event of your death. On the other hand, you may worry about whether or not the proceeds are taxable. In this article, we will discuss both sides of the coin and help you make an informed decision about whether or not insurance proceeds are taxable.