Receiving Life Insurance Distributions Before Death

Michael Lodge

by Michael Lodge

It seems to be the old story of needing cash in your retirement years and one of the ways is receiving life insurance distributions before you pass away.  The issue is how do you report it and is it taxable.

Question: I exercised my rights to receive life insurance distributions before death. Are these proceeds taxable?


If you surrender a life insurance policy for cash, you must include in income any proceeds that are more than the cost of the life insurance policy. In general, your cost (or investment in the contract) is the total of premiums that you paid for the life insurance policy less any refunded premiums, rebates, dividends, or loans that you neither repaid nor previously included in your income.

You should receive a Form 1099-R, Distributions From Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, etc., showing the gross proceeds and the taxable part. Report these amounts on lines 16a and 16b of Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, or on lines 12a and 12b of Form 1040A, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

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