As part of AdvisorOne’s Special Report, 20 Days of Tax Planning Advice for 2013, throughout the month of March, we are partnering with our Summit Business Media sister service, Tax Facts Online, to take a deeper dive into certain tax planning issues in a convenient Q&A format. In this fifth article, we look at how annuity payments affect estate taxes.
Q. What are the estate tax results when a decedent has been receiving payments under an annuity contract?
If a decedent was receiving a straight life annuity, there is no property interest remaining at the decedent’s death to be included in the decedent’s gross estate.
If a contract provides a survivor benefit (as under a refund life annuity, joint and survivor annuity, or installment option), tax results depend on whether the survivor benefit is payable to a decedent’s estate or to a named beneficiary and, if payable to a named beneficiary, on who paid for the contract.
If payable to a decedent’s estate, the value of the post-death payment or payments is includable in the decedent’s gross estate under IRC Section 2033 as a property interest owned by the decedent at the time of his or her death. If payable to a named beneficiary, the provisions of IRC Section 2039(a) and IRC Section 2039(b) generally apply and inclusion in the gross estate is determined by a premium payment test. Thus, if a decedent purchased the contract (after March 3, 1931), the value of the refund or survivor benefit is includable in the decedent’s gross estate.
In the event a decedent furnished only part of the purchase price, the decedent’s gross estate includes only a proportional share of this value.