Tax Break for Hybrid Annuities and Long Term Care Insurance

Did you buy some annuity product earlier this decade that allowed some provision for long term care insurance too? If you did, and weren’t really sure of the benefit, next year might be the year that you do. In 2010, you will be allow to withdraw money from a certain kind of annuity without paying taxes as long as you use it to pay for qualified long-term care coverage. All baby boomers, especially those in the highest tax bracket, can thank the Pension Protection Act of 2006 for this new, fortunate development.
Income tax

1. New popularity for an obscure annuity.

In the mid-2000s, a new kind of non-qualified deferred annuity emerged, the hybrid annuity, structured to provide either a long-term care benefit or a death benefit. It was designed as a less expensive alternative to a traditional long-term care policy. So far, these hybrid annuities with long-term care riders had been little publicized, but all that is about to change. Before 2010, you could make withdrawal from these hybrid annuities without facing penalty or surrender charges, but part of the withdrawal could be subject to tax. Starting in 2010, any withdrawal from such an annuity will be income tax-free if the money goes towards qualified long-term care. So in 2010, if $100,000 you initially put into hybrid annuity with long-term care rider has grown to $250,000, you can pull the entire $250,000 without a tax hit, if that $250,000 will be used to pay for qualified long-term care coverage. You wouldn’t even pay taxes on the $150,000 gain of the annuity. If you are simply withdrawing small amounts from the hybrid annuity to help pay for long-term care, those tax-free withdrawals will be taken from the principal of the hybrid annuity and not the gain of the annuity. That is the by-law under the new tax treatment.

2. Can You exchange a tax shelter into a hybrid annuity?

You sure can. The Pension Protection Act also allows you to make a 1035 exchange into a hybrid annuity starting in 2010. So you can exchange the annuities you have now for one with a long-term care rider that would permit you to withdraw entire value of the annuity to pay qualified long-term care costs, tax-free and penalty free.  If  you are looking to do an exchange with an existing policy, be sure to make sure that the current policy doesn’t have a death benefit or income guarantee that you might be giving up.  This kind of goes without saying, too; but also make sure you don’t have a substantial surrender penalty.

3. 2010 is a time to learn more.

Could these hybrid annuities prove useful to you in paying long-term care costs? Are they suitable for your overall financial picture? You, and only you, are going to know the answer to that question. You definitely want to meet with an insurance or financial professional to take a closer look at your situation and find the potential tax break that could be offered to you.

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