Is Cash Surrender Value of Life Insurance Subject to Taxation in the United States?

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Is the cash surrender value of life insurance taxable? What are the tax consequences of surrendering a life insurance policy?

Life insurance plans provide financial security to surviving dependents in the case of the policyholder’s death. What happens, though, if life insurance is no longer required or if a policyholder requires cash from their policy? It’s just as vital to comprehend the policy’s death benefits as it is to understand what happens if your policy is voluntarily terminated when you enroll in a life insurance plan. As a result, it’s critical for policyholders to understand what their policy’s cash surrender value is.

The word “cash surrender value” will most likely appear in your life insurance contract in relation to your policy. If a policyholder needs to access the cash value of their policy, this is the entire amount they will receive. 

If you’re working with annuities, this figure is also known as “surrender value” or “annuity surrender value.” It should not be confused with the policy’s true “cash value.” The following is a breakdown of the difference between the surrender value and the cash value of your policy.

What Is the Difference Between Surrender Value and Cash Value of a Life Insurance Policy?

Cash value is the amount of money kept in your policy’s account as a result of premium payments over time while surrender value is the amount of money received by a policyholder who tries to obtain the cash value of a policy by terminating or cashing it out.

Surrender values may be less than the cash value of your policy since insurance firms charge “surrender costs” when a policyholder wants to withdraw funds. Because surrender values are linked to premium payments, the value of your insurance may fluctuate over time.


What Is the Procedure for Cash Surrender?

If you have a whole life insurance policy, a portion of your monthly premium payments will go toward acquiring the death benefit, while the remainder will go toward building your account’s cash value.

By signing a contract with your life insurance provider, you agree to pay that premium for the lifetime of your policy, with the understanding that your carrier will pay out the benefit if you die. However, if you choose to breach your contract with your provider by voluntarily terminating the policy, this account serves as a type of protection.

If you opt to cancel your whole life insurance policy, you will be responsible for the damages paid by the insurance company as a result of your breach of contract. These “surrender fees” are deducted from the cash value of your policy’s account, which you contributed to. The remaining balance (the surrender value) is paid to the policyholder once the insurance company is fully whole.

What Are the Factors that Can Influence Your Cash Surrender Value

What Are the Factors that Can Influence Your Cash Surrender Value in the United States?

1. Policy Type

Cash value options are common in whole life, universal life, and variable universal life insurance plans. Term life insurance policies and other types of whole life insurance plans, on the other hand, may not provide guaranteed cash value, so read your contract carefully to understand your alternatives.

2. Surrender Period

Most insurance companies can only allow clients to surrender their policies after two to three years. This ensures that policyholders have accumulated enough value in their accounts to meet any charges involved with canceling their insurance if they choose to retrieve the cash value.

3. Borrowing for Policy

Insurance companies may allow policyholders to borrow against the cash value of their policy in particular instances. This gives policyholders a tax-free way to get the money they need while they’re still alive, without having to cancel their policy.


How Do I Figure Out the Cash Surrender Value of My Life Insurance Policy?

To determine the cash surrender value of your life insurance policy, you must first examine the following:

  • What is the length of your policy and how much have you paid so far?
  • Do you have any form of insurance policy?
  • Has any of your insurance premium money been invested by your insurance company?
  • What has been the market performance for any investment elements of your policy that have been specified?

How Much Will Surrender Fees Cost You If You Want to Retrieve the Cash Value of Your Account?

You’ll be able to get a better idea of what the prospective surrender value is if you consider all of this information. Subtract any surrender fees or policy loan interests and balances from the cash value of your account to get the cash surrender value of your policy. Alternatively, you can call your insurance agent to acquire a precise estimate of your policy’s surrender value.

Is the Cash Surrender Value Subject to Taxation?

Only the growth in the account is taxed, not the cash surrender value of the policy. The preferred tax treatment for money withdrawals by life insurance companies is known as FIFO (first in first out). That implies policyholders can withdraw the surrender value of their policy tax-free up to the amount they contributed to it. 

If you pay $50,000 into a whole life insurance policy after five years, you can take up to $50,000 tax-free from your cash value because you paid that amount in premiums in the previous five years. If you choose to withdraw any more funds in the account as a consequence of interest accrual, you will be taxed.


Only when you’ve voluntarily terminated your life insurance policy and reached the end of your surrender period may you withdraw the cash surrender value from your account. When you opt to cash out your policy, the insurer will deduct the applicable surrender fees and taxes from any money withdrawn that exceeds the amount provided by the policyholder. It can be difficult to decide whether or not to cash out on your insurance policy.

What is Net Surrender Value?

The net surrender value is the amount that the policy holder will receive as a refund if he or she cancels an in-force and active permanent life insurance policy and surrenders – or gives back – the policy to the insurance carrier before the policy “matures” or before the insured passes away.

Editorial Team
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