While many deductions are commonly known, like mortgage interest and charitable contributions, you may be wondering if life insurance is tax deductible too. But before you go writing off life insurance premiums this tax season, here’s what you need to know.

What is a tax deduction?

Tax deductions are amounts that you can subtract from your taxable income to help you pay less in taxes. Some standard tax deductions are contributions to health savings accounts (HSAs) and what you pay in property taxes. That means when tax season rolls around, you’ll add up your taxable income, then subtract any deductions that you qualify for before determining how much you’re going to pay or receive in a refund. Since there are different eligibility rules for each deduction, it may be wise to consult with a tax professional if you’re unsure which specific ones apply to you.

Is life insurance tax deductible?

For the average person taking out a personal life insurance policy, the premiums you pay are typically not tax deductible. That’s because they’re considered a personal expense. And since life insurance isn’t required by the government, there’s no mandate that you must be insured, which means no government tax breaks. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t unique situations where you can deduct life insurance premiums from your taxes, like:

When you own a business

If you own a business and pay life insurance premiums for your employees, those premium payments may be deducted as a business expense. For most businesses offering a group term life policy to employees, the premiums are typically deductible up to the first $50,000 in coverage per employee.

When the beneficiary is a charity

If you take out a life insurance policy and name a charitable organisation as the beneficiary, you may be able to write off some of the premiums as a tax deduction. But in addition to naming the charity as the beneficiary, you’ll also need to transfer policy ownership. And that means there’s no changing your mind after the fact. So, if you’re debating making a charity the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, you may want to discuss tax deductions with a financial professional first.

How to determine if your life insurance is tax deductible

Working with a qualified tax planner or professional is a good idea if you’re unsure if your life insurance premiums are tax deductible. And it’s important to work with an expert if you’re a business owner that’s not 100% sure how to go about deducting the premiums. Plus, it’s worth noting that while your premiums may not be tax deductible, the death benefit paid out to your beneficiaries is often tax-free. You’ll also receive the benefit of tax-deferred growth if your life insurance policy has a cash value component. So, you can think of it as paying your dues on the front end so your loved ones can receive a higher benefit and lower tax burden down the line.

The bottom line

For many people, life insurance is not a tax-deductible expense. But the benefits of maintaining a policy far outweigh the downside of not receiving a tax break. If you think you may be eligible to deduct life insurance premiums, seek the advice of an expert financial or tax professional to confirm.