Is the cash value of life insurance taxable?

Cash Value of Life Insurance Taxable?

There are two ways to access cash in a life policy. Withdrawals and loans. You are not required to pay back loans from a policy, sincy you are loaning yourself your own money.

If you withdraw the money any amount over what you have paid in premiums is taxable.

If you loan out the money it is not taxable as long as the policy is still in force. You have to be carefull not to take out too much in a loan or it will implode the policy. Talk to your agent or the company to find out the max loan amount available while still keeping the policy in force.

Most people withdraw up to what they have paid in, and then loan out the rest.

If the cash value grows too large compared to the death benefit it becomes a MEC or modified endowment contract, and is then subject to a 10% tax. A good agent who is knowledgable in designing a policy will be able to keep this from happening.

Finally, be aware that a policy loan is not free. That is, the policy will prescribe the interest rate at which the loan is made. While it is generally less than the market rate of interest would be for a commercial or personal loan, you will end up paying back more than you borrow, or the dividend that you might otherwise receive (in the case of a mutual company) may be less to account for the interest on the loan. Check the terms of the policy for details. If the loan is not repaid prior to the time of death, the loan balance, including accrued interest, will be deducted from the death benefit.

More information:

  • It depends on the type of "cash out" you applied for and which state you live in. You should be able to obtain some form of written verification regardless, so contact your life company.
  • (1) While life insurance policy is enforce, the cash value of the policy and its growth are not considered taxable. (2) If you surrender or cash-in the policy, and the total amount of cash value returned to you is less than the total amount your policy invested into cash value, it is considered a return of principle and is not taxable. (3) If the cash value returned to you is greater than the amount your policy invested into cash value, the amount in excess of the amount invested into cash value is considered a "gain" and is taxable as income. (4) If the policy you surrender (cash-in) is considered a MEC or Modified Endowment Contract (the company can inform you if it is), cashing-in or borrowing against the cash value may be fully taxable. (Consult a tax adviser if this is the case).
  • Be cautious of plans to take loans from your life insurance to avoid taxation. These loans are still taxable beyond what you paid in if your policy ever disappears while you are alive. For this reason, it is critical to carefully review your plan each year, particularly if you plan to take loans or have loans against your policy.