Series EE savings bonds are issued by the U.S. Treasury and let you defer paying taxes on the interest until you redeem the bonds. You can buy up to $10,000 per year of Series EE bonds, and the interest compounds every six months. The rate is set at the time you buy it and doesn't change over the life of the bond.
Minimum Holding Period
You must hold your Series EE bonds for at least one year before you're eligible to redeem them. For example, if you buy your bonds in January 2013, you can't redeem them before January 2014. Prior to 2003, you could cash in your bonds as early as six months after buying them, but the minimum holding period was doubled to 12 months that year.
Even though you can redeem your EE bonds after one year, you lose three months' worth of interest unless you've waited at least five years. For example, if you cash in your EE bonds after just 24 months, you would only be paid 21 months' worth of interest.
Original Maturity Date
Series EE bonds will double in value no more than 17 years after you buy them. If the interest hasn't doubled the value, the Treasury makes a one-time adjustment to increase the EE bond's value. The 17-year anniversary is known as the original maturity date. However, interest will continue to grow for another 13 years after the original maturity date.
Final Maturity Date
After 30 years, your EE bonds stop earning interest. At that point, you can redeem your Series EE bonds. When you redeem them, you must pay taxes on the interest that has been accruing for the past 30 years tax-free. Prior to September 1, 2004, you also had the option to trade them in for Series HH bonds, which allowed you to continue to let the interest accrue tax-free for another 20 years. When the HH bonds mature, you must redeem the bonds and pay taxes on the interest.
Based in the Kansas City area, Mike specializes in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."