New messages from Aflac | View Notifications opens a dialog Close X dismisses the notification alert

Are Life Insurance Dividends Taxable?

Life insurance can be an essential investment for protecting your loved ones if you pass away. However, death benefit coverage isn’t the only benefit of owning life insurance. It can come with several other features, one of which is life insurance dividends. Some insurers may pay these each year if they have excess profits, rewarding you for being a policyholder. This article will explain how life insurance dividends work, then discuss when they may be considered taxable income.

How life insurance dividends work

Life insurance dividends are a sum of money the insurer pays to each policyholder based on the insurer’s company profits.1 Permanent life insurance policies, such as whole life insurance, generally pay dividends since they have cash value. Term life insurance does not pay dividends.

Insurers generally pay dividends annually. Also, keep in mind that dividends are separate from cash value earnings.

Are dividends from life insurance taxable?

Life insurance dividends are generally not taxable. This is because, in most cases, the IRS considers a life insurance dividend to be a return of premiums paid.1 However, there are a few exceptions that we’ll cover in the next session.

Peace of mind doesn't
have to break the bank

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Help cover yourself and your family with coverage from Aflac.

Get a Quote

When life insurance dividends are taxable

Here are some instances where life insurance dividends may be taxable:

Your dividends exceed the total premiums paid

If the amount of dividends you receive is greater than the total premiums you have paid into the policy, the excess may be taxable. This is because any dividends over the amount you paid are considered income, not a return of premium.

For example, imagine that you pay $1,000 in life insurance premiums this year, and you receive a $1,250 dividend. You may owe taxes on the $250 excess.

You earn interest on dividends

You can leave your dividends in your policy to earn interest. However, this interest income may be taxable if it earns you more than you have paid in premiums.2

How to use your life insurance dividends

Policyholders can elect to receive their dividends in several ways:1

Receive your dividends in cash

Many choose to receive their dividends in cash. This can be a good way to supplement your income, use the dividends for a specific purpose, invest the funds elsewhere, or recoup some of the costs of your life insurance without reducing your coverage.

Apply your dividends to future premium payments

You can elect to apply your dividends directly to future premium payments. This can help you reduce the cost of life insurance coverage and automatically pay part or all of your premiums. Applying dividends to premium payments can also help ensure coverage doesn’t lapse if you encounter financial problems in the future.

Let your dividends accumulate interest

You can have your insurer pay your dividends directly into your cash value and earn interest. This allows the principal to grow faster, which also helps you earn larger interest payments. Leaving your dividends in the policy could help you grow your cash value as a source of wealth more quickly.

Get paid‐up additional life insurance

Paid-up life insurance is simply coverage that is already paid for, meaning you don’t need to pay additional premiums. You can use your dividends to purchase additional paid-up life insurance. This allows you to increase your coverage without a corresponding increase in premium payments.

Purchase a reduced paid‐up policy

Purchasing a reduced paid-up policy with your dividends allows you to stop paying premiums entirely, but you must lower your death benefit. You may want to consider this option if you have gone through changes that require less coverage and want to cut your out-of-pocket costs.

Learn more about life insurance

Life insurance dividends can reward you for being a loyal policyholder. You can take them as cash, put them toward future premiums, save them in your cash value to build more wealth, or get more coverage without increasing your costs.

Regardless of how you choose to receive your dividends, keep in mind that you may owe taxes on any amounts that exceed premiums paid. Tax professionals can help you determine whether you owe taxes on your dividends.

For more help understanding life insurance, please visit Aflac’s life insurance advice page. And if you’re ready to get a policy, speak with an agent about our life insurance options today.

Still have questions?

Explore your life insurance options.

Get a Quote