Life Insurance Policy Taxes | Taxable Cash Value

Most people are wondering why there are Life Insurance Policy Taxes. Meanwhile, the primary purpose of life insurance is to provide a death benefit that’s capable of taking care of your loved ones financially.

The bonus here is that life insurance death benefits are not typically taxed. Since the increase in coverage amount, it’s a major benefit that the life insurance payout is paid tax-free.

However, there are a few aspects to life insurance that won’t get past the body in charge of taxes. See the following paragraph, and find out if a life insurance payout is taxable.

Is a Life Insurance Payout Taxable?

The answer to the above question is NO. Life Insurance death benefit payouts are usually not taxable. This means that beneficiaries will receive the money without a tax burden floating over their heads.

But, there are some occasions where life insurance death benefits may be taxable. Here’s a detail about when to get ready for a tax bill. Major life insurance payouts are made in a huge sum immediately after the death of the insured person.

However, once a beneficiary decides to delay the payout or get the payouts installmentally, interest may accrue. As a result, the interest paid to the beneficiary may be taxed.

The Life Insurance Payout Goes Into a Taxable Estate

Most life insurance payouts are given to people immediately and tax-free. But what happens to the death benefit from a life insurance policy if a beneficiary wasn’t selected or has already passed away?

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It becomes part of the insured person’s estate and may be subject to estate taxes alongside the rest of the estate.

This might result in a hefty tax burden, particularly if federal and state estate taxes are involved. As of 2023, the first $12.92 million per person is free from federal estate taxes, although state estate taxes could have far lower exemption rates.

Furthermore, an unfortunate circumstance is when an estate is below the exemption level but is pushed into a taxable region by an important funeral insurance payout to the estate.

This can be prevented by identifying primary and contingent life insurance beneficiaries and maintaining those choices.

The Life Insurance Policy Involving Three Different People

Life insurance death benefits can easily become a taxable gift in a situation where three people serve three different roles together with the life insurance policy. These positions include:

  • The policy owner. This is the person who purchased the policy and is ultimately responsible for paying the premiums.
  • The insured. This person’s life is covered by the life insurance policy.
  • The beneficiary. This person receives the death benefit when the insured person dies.

Is the Cash Value in a Life Insurance Policy Taxable?

If you own a cash-value life insurance policy, like whole life insurance, you can fully access the money through a withdrawal, a loan, or by surrendering the policy & ending it.

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Among the reasons why I buy cash value life insurance is to gain access to the money that is compiled within the policy.

When you pay premiums, the payments majorly go to three places: cash value, the cost to insure you, and policy fees and charges.

The money within the cash value account grows tax-free, and this is based on the interest or investment gains it earns. But once you withdraw the funds, you could face a tax bill.

Money gotten from cash value is normally made up of two parts, here’s a table below:

Types of money Taxable?
Money that came from your premium payments This component of a withdrawal isn’t taxable. In the life insurance industry, this part is called the “policy basis.”
Money that came from interest or investment gains This portion is subject to income taxes if you withdraw it. Your life insurance company will be able to tell you what amount in a withdrawal is “above basis” and taxable.


If eventually, your life insurance policy taxes a modified endowment contract or MEC, different tax rules apply, and it’s best to reach out to a financial professional to understand tax implications.

Surrendering the Life Insurance Policy

You can take the surrender value of the life insurance policy and the insurer will terminate the coverage if you decide you no longer need or want the life insurance policy.

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The amount you receive is your cash value minus any surrender charges, which are typically assessed within the first 10 or 20 years of owning the policy and gradually phase out over time.

You can expect to receive a surrender charge within the first 10 or 20 years of owning the policy. However, only a small amount of the surrender value will be subject to tax.

The amount you received less the policy base, or the total amount of premium payments you paid for the insurance, will be subject to taxation. The investment profits that you withdrew are reflected in this taxable amount.

Let’s say that your total cash worth is $45,000 and your annual premiums equal $38,000. The $7,000 which reflects the investment profits would be subject to tax as part of the dividend.

Source: TopCelebBio