Is life insurance taxable in Canada?

If you reside in Canada, do you need to pay taxes on your life insurance?The PolicyMe logo and website linkPromoted by Here are the steps you should take to avoid putting your loved ones in a tax bind in your will. Learn the taimplications of your life insurance coverage.

A levy represented in wooden letters Nataliya Vaitk vich submitted this photo to Pexels.
Having life insurance is like paying for a guarantee of tranquility. By providing for them financially, you might ease their burden and the emotional anguish that sometimes follows a loss in the family. To what extent, though, do you plan on helping your loved ones after they’ve received their inheritance?


If you reside in Canada, do you need to pay taxes on your life insurance? Will the money you leave behind be taxable? You probably bought the coverage so that your loved ones wouldn’t have to deal with any more uncertainty once you’re gone. In case you were wondering how taxation would affect your life insurance policy, here’s all you need to know.

Get free, individualized quotes from the best life insurance companies in Canada.Use without spending a dime! Alright, let’s get this party started. * QUOTES FOR TERM LIFE AND WHOLE LIFE INSURANCEA new browser window will pop up.


Getting back to Money Sense is as simple as closing the tab If you reside in Canada, do you need to pay taxes on your life insurance? The proceeds from a life insurance policy are generally exempt from federal income tax. In the event of the insured person’s death, the beneficiary receives a lump sum payment that is not subject to federal income tax. In order to keep your family in the same house and neighborhood, you’ll need to take care of any outstanding financial obligations, such as a mortgage.


It can also serve as a replacement source of income, allowing your family to continue living comfortably in the event that you become incapacitated or pass away. It can be used to cover final expenses and prevent the liquidation of other assets. Additionally, it can be used to provide for your dependents and heirs or donated to a charity of your or your heirs’ choosing. To avoid paying taxes on the money, your spouse, kids, or whoever you choose as beneficiary won’t have to declare the money they receive from your life insurance policy. What kind of life insurance policy it was, how much it was, or if it was term or whole life insurance, is irrelevant.

Remember that we claimed the recipients wouldn’t owe taxes on “most” of the funds? Then, what is it? How hard could it possibly be? The proceeds on the life insured’s death are paid to the estate if the estate is listed as the beneficiary or if the beneficiary predeceases the life insured and no other (contingent) beneficiary has been named. Here’s when it starts to get complicated: Peter Wouters director of tax, retirement, and estate planning services for Empire Life Insurance Company in Kingston, Ont.,


notes that “there may be probate fees, estate administration taxes, and estate settlement costs like executor, legal, and accounting fees” that must be paid out before any money or assets can be distributed to beneficiaries under the deceased’s will. He further notes that if no will was made, the assets would be distributed according to provincial law. Dying “intestate” means that the deceased left no will.

Tips for optimizing the benefits of your life insurance policy Having a solid estate plan in place, including life insurance, burial arrangements, and investments, can be a great emotional and financial relief for your loved ones. What role do things like life insurance, burial arrangements, and investments play for these people? The burden of taxes must be lessened; how can this be done?

The first and foremost step is to update your insurance policy’s beneficiary designations. According to Wouters, “this might prevent the expense and delay of probate and the settlement of most of the life insured’s debts after death.”


Where the dead had a legal duty to support a dependent, such as in a separation or divorce agreement, “exceptions may apply,” such as in the case of dependents’ relief. The settlement procedure can be sped up by designating beneficiaries on a life insurance policy, and unlike a will, the beneficiaries’ identities will remain hidden from the public eye. The better off your loved ones will be, the more you plan ahead.

“Life insurance proceeds on death can also be used to pay for income taxes owed by the deceased and their estate on earned income, investment income, including capital gains, registered retirement savings plans [RRSPs] if a spouse has not been named as the sole beneficiary, and registered retirement income funds [RRIFs] if a spouse has not been named as the sole beneficiary or successor owner,” says Wouters

To make up for the income that would otherwise be lost due to the insured’s death, life insurance can also provide cash payouts and income in the form of a lump sum. When used in this way, investments run the risk of being liquidated at a time when market prices are low, preventing the owner from benefiting from possible future price increases. Realized capital gains from the sale of investments may be taxed and must be declared and paid to the government before any distributions may be made to beneficiaries.

Insurance may be required as supplementary collateral on loans by lending institutions such as banks, trust companies, and credit unions in case the borrower passes away before the loan is paid in full. Wouters explains that if there is a loan balance, the lender will deduct that amount from the total proceeds if the insured person dies. The remainder goes to the borrower’s heirs or beneficiaries. Up to a specified percentage of the cash value and/or sum insured [the amount paid on the death of the life insured] of a life insurance policy may be used as collateral.

Get free, individualized quotes from the best life insurance companies in Canada.Use without spending a dime! Alright, let’s get this party started. * QUOTES FOR TERM LIFE AND WHOLE LIFE INSURANCEA new browser window will pop up. Getting back to MoneySense is as simple as closing the tab.In-depth analysis of the Canadian tax system’s treatment of life insuranceSome frequent inquiries regarding Canadian taxes and life insurance are as follows:

Can I deduct the cost of my life insurance policy?

No. The premiums you pay for your life insurance policy are typically paid with after-tax income. Wouters argues that in that case, the payer typically cannot deduct the expense. When I pass away, will my heirs be responsible for paying my taxes?The first and most important expense that your coverage must cover is tax.Wouters adds that the tax debt of the deceased can be settled with the money from the life insurance policy. The estate’s debts and taxes must be settled before any money may be given to the heirs.

Furthermore, he says, life insurance can help the estate’s assets be distributed more quickly.
When the value of a life insurance policy, such as whole life, increases, am I subject to taxation?It’s conditional. As long as the increase is not withdrawn from the policy, it is exempt from taxation, as stated by Wouters. As part of the tax-free death benefit, the accrued value is distributed upon the insured’s passing.

How about tax implications if you withdraw the money? The insurance company is responsible for determining that. Wouters states that the insurance company is responsible for determining the amount of taxable income. If this is the case, the policyholder will get a tax form in the mail. (It’s a T5; we’ll get into it in more detail later.) Life insurance policies can be terminated or surrendered by contacting either the policy’s financial advisor or the insurer directly. Additionally, the service provider can ask you to fill out a cancellation form. Cash withdrawals and policy loans may be handled similarly, but you must continue to pay premiums to keep your insurance in force.

Should I consider the growth in the value of my life insurance and any interest I’ve accrued as income?And again, not if it’s still within the bounds of the rule. The cash amount or accumulated value of a permanent life insurance policy does not constitute income, according to Wouters. Following the deductibility of pure insurance and administration expenses, “the sums invested grow on a tax-sheltered basis.” Exempt life insurance plans are virtually universal in Canada due to the fact that cash values accumulated in them are not subject to taxation.

Should I expect to pay taxes on the investment earnings on my insurance payout?When the payment arrives, yes. Unless the money is placed in another tax-sheltered plan, such as a tax-free savings account, “earnings on the payout of life insurance are subject to income tax on earned interest, dividends, and realized capital gains on those invested amounts,” explains Wouters. Beyond the basic expenses of providing coverage and managing the policy, permanent life insurance policies have the insurance company invest the money (except perhaps in the case of universal life). Depending on factors including claims experience, operational costs, long-term interest rates, and investment performance, “the policy may have increased guaranteed cash values and additional non-guaranteed cash values,” explains Wouters.

Get free, individualized quotes from the best life insurance companies in Canada.Use without spending a dime! Alright, let’s get this party started. * QUOTES FOR TERM LIFE AND WHOLE LIFE INSURANCEA new browser window will pop up. Getting back to MoneySense is as simple as closing the tab.A T5 is… what, exactly?In Canada, residents are required to record investment income on their income tax and benefit forms, which can be found on their T5 tax slip. Upon the insured’s passing, the beneficiary receives the life insurance payout without receiving a tax form or having to include the amount in their tax return. However, a tax form may be issued if you cash in your insurance.


Wouters adds, “When a policyholder borrows or withdraws money from a life insurance policy, the insurance company must file a T5 form to disclose the income.” It specifies the various forms and amounts of investment income that must be declared by the taxpayer. The T5 slip informs the taxpayer of how much dividend income must be included in their taxable income and how much tax credit may be claimed to offset that tax liability. There is a number next to each field on the form that indicates which section of the return that particular source of income belongs in.


Where does 12100 fit in?The revenues from certain life insurance plans are reported by the taxpayer on T5 slip line 12100 (formerly line 121 until the 2019 tax year). What is its function? According to Wouters, “The reported earnings on certain life insurance policies are handled like other investment income.” This is the case most often when the earnings are the result of a direct policy loan, withdrawal, or surrender of a permanent life insurance policy with an accumulated value.


Since it’s not from capital gains, it’s treated as ordinary income and subject to taxation at the regular rate. When a person receives this, their taxable income and after-tax income go up. The insurance company will provide you with a T5 slip detailing the required amount to report.

How and when do I have to pay taxes on my life insurance?

Wouter’s says taxes may need to be paid upon the complete or partial surrender of a permanent life insurance policy with a cash value. It’s possible that you’ll have to fork over some tax cash if you take out a loan against your life insurance policy and the sum you borrow is higher than the policy’s adjusted cost basis. The longer you keep a policy, the more money it will be worth and the less it will be worth in terms of its adjusted cost base. When you borrow against or remove money from your policy, the amount that is more than the adjusted cost basis is considered taxable income.

Wouter’s adds that you can find out if the amount you withdraw or borrow at any time is subject to tax from the life insurance illustration (your insurance documents) you used to help you make your buying decision. In that case, the insurance provider will send you a T5 with the required filing amount on it.

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