How to Report Insurance Settlement Proceeds on IRS Form 1040

All proceeds not used to "make you whole" are considered income.

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Before you report taxes on an insurance settlement on your Form 1040, you must know which settlement proceeds are considered taxable by the Internal Revenue Service and which are not. The answer depends on the nature of the lawsuit and the settlement.

Form 1040

If you have a lawsuit settlement that’s taxable, report it on Line 21 of Form 1040, which is labeled “other income.” Taxable settlement monies are taxed at ordinary income tax rates, although it is likely the settlement will put you into a higher tax bracket. Although you don’t owe taxes on a personal injury settlement per se, you do owe taxes on any interest earned from that settlement. Report such interest on Form 1040, line 8a. Keep in mind that if your attorney took a contingency fee from the settlement, which often runs from 35 to 40 percent of the total, you will have to report the entire amount. However, you can deduct the amount of the attorney’s fees on Form 1040’s Schedule A.

Personal Injury Settlement Not Taxable

Most personal injury settlements are not taxable, and that’s true at the state as well as at the federal level. You don’t have to report such monies on your Form 1040. However, if the jury awarded you punitive damages because the party causing your injury acted in a particularly negligent or reckless manner, you will owe taxes on that amount. Often, the compensatory damages in a personal injury settlement, such as lost wages or medical expenses, are listed separately from any punitive damages, so it is easy to figure out the correct amounts.

A Car Accident Settlement May Be Taxable

If your car accident settlement involved personal injury, that part of the lawsuit settlement isn’t taxable. However, if you received monies for emotional distress and the emotional distress wasn’t directly related to your injuries, you must pay tax on that amount. For example, if the car accident caused you emotional distress in that you now have a panic attack every time you get behind the wheel, that part of the money from the settlement is taxable.

When Compensatory Damages Are Taxable

Compensatory damages are those awarded to a plaintiff to replace something lost. Compensatory damages are taxable when they do not pertain to any sort of injury. That’s the situation if you are awarded such damages in an employment or any other type of court case for back pay or the like.

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About the Author

A graduate of New York University, Jane Meggitt's work has appeared in dozens of publications, including PocketSense, Financial Advisor, Sapling, nj.com and The Nest.


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