Interest rates remain at historic lows. Conservative investors who needed guaranteed income and preservation of principal are in a bind. In many cases, returns at the bank are below one percent, but fixed annuity accounts are providing much better yields. Many investors are purchasing fixed annuities rather than bank instruments in order to capture higher returns.
Times may change and the United States economy will hopefully improve significantly. Inflation pressure will grow, and the Federal Reserve should ratchet up interest rates and treasury yields will increase in kind. While much of this is good news, it creates problems for the annuity purchaser from just a few years ago.
If you invested in a traditional fixed annuity account during these low yielding years, you may find yourself in a dilemma. The problem: many of these accounts have fallen to their guaranteed minimum yields. Currently, they might only offer a paltry return between 2 and 3.5 percent. There are several reasons for this decline.
To begin with, many annuity accounts have a first year bonus that will not be paid in subsequent years. In addition, these accounts often provide a floating rate of return. Their returns are not locked in. A floating rate annuity is quick to go down in years where yields are decreasing, but slow to come back up when yields in the treasury market increase. In essence, if you purchased an annuity in the lean years, you may have locked in poor yields for the duration of your account.
There are other issues as well. If your annuity has not reached maturity, you will have to pay surrender penalties if you cash in the account early. In addition, if you purchased a non-qualified annuity account, you may have accumulated tax deferred interest. Should you transfer your annuity to anything another than another annuity account, you could have income tax to pay. Taxes and penalties will quickly lower your account value upon early surrender.
Rest assured ─ this is not a story of doom and gloom. The fix to this problem is simple. You simply exchange your old annuity for a new account. Yields have increased dramatically over the last three years, and a new account can lock in a much higher annuity rate. Furthermore, it may be a wise decision to lock in a guaranteed fixed annuity rate as oppose to an account with a floating rate of return.
Unless your account is very new, the higher guaranteed yields can more than make up for any surrender penalties your may have. A sizable account can accumulate thousands of additional dollars by making this change. (It is important to note that many economic pundits are already predicting that the Federal Reserve Board will begin to lower rates in 2007. This will most certainly force treasury markets and annuity yields lower for those who have not locked in higher rates.)
Additionally, if income taxes are a concern, you should understand that taxes are not due if you transfer your old non-qualified annuity to a new annuity account. This is why owners simply transfer from one annuity to another in what the I.R.S. has deemed a 1035 tax-free exchange. Income taxes will only be due if and when you decide to take out your interest. If yours is a retirement account (also called a qualified account) you can simply perform a rollover. If done properly, (with the help of an experienced agent and/or accountant), a qualified rollover is not a taxable event either.
In summary, no longer do you need to dread your quarterly annuity statements. There are several reputable insurance companies providing very reasonable guaranteed returns. These products will provide you with peace of mind knowing that a market crash cannot diminish your principal or earned interest. Contact us for more information today.