Income Taxes on CDs

Certificates of deposit (CDs) are popular among older adults as Federal Reserve interest rate hikes have raised interest paid on cash equivalent assets. With higher interest comes higher taxes. Interest earned on CDs is taxed as ordinary income at tax rates ranging from 10% to 37%, based on taxable income and filing status.

Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D. CFP®, AFC®, CRPC®
  • Written by
    Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®, AFC®, CRPC®

    Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®, AFC®, CRPC®

    Certified Financial Planner™ professional, Accredited Financial Counselor™ and owner and CEO of Money Talk

    Barbara O’Neill is a personal finance expert with 41 years of experience working at Rutgers University. She is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional and an Accredited Financial Counselor™. Currently, she is the owner and CEO of Money Talk, where she writes, speaks and reviews content related to personal finance. In 2020, she authored Flipping a Switch, published in 2020.

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  • Edited By
    Savannah Pittle
    Savannah Pittle, senior financial editor for RetireGuide

    Savannah Pittle

    Senior Financial Editor

    Savannah Pittle is a professional writer and content editor with over 16 years of professional experience across multiple industries. She has ghostwritten for entrepreneurs and industry leaders and been published in mediums such as The Huffington Post, Southern Living and Interior Appeal Magazine.

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  • Financially Reviewed By Thomas Brock, CFA®, CPA
  • Published: September 26, 2023
  • Updated: October 11, 2023
  • 7 min read time
  • This page features 5 Cited Research Articles
Fact Checked
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A qualified expert reviewed the content on this page to ensure it is factually accurate, meets current industry standards and helps readers achieve a better understanding of retirement topics.

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How to Cite RetireGuide.com's Article

APA O’Neill, B. (2023, October 11). Income Taxes on CDs. RetireGuide.com. Retrieved May 22, 2024, from https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-planning/investing/certificate-of-deposit/taxes/

MLA O’Neill, Barbara. "Income Taxes on CDs." RetireGuide.com, 11 Oct 2023, https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-planning/investing/certificate-of-deposit/taxes/.

Chicago O’Neill, Barbara. "Income Taxes on CDs." RetireGuide.com. Last modified October 11, 2023. https://www.retireguide.com/retirement-planning/investing/certificate-of-deposit/taxes/.

Key Takeaways
  • Taxes are due on interest earned each year for CDs with maturities longer than a year.
  • Interest on CDs placed in tax-deferred savings accounts like traditional IRAs is taxed when distributions are made, typically in retirement.
  • With increased interest earned on CDs because of rising interest rates, you should review your income tax withholding for accuracy.

How Are CDs Taxed?

Many people like the predictable return that certificates of deposit, also called CDs or time deposits, offer and the fact that they often pay slightly more interest than savings and money market accounts. The IRS taxes this interest earned on CDs as ordinary income. In addition to interest, ordinary income includes salaries/wages, royalties, commissions and short-term capital gains on investments.

Pro Tip
Ordinary federal income tax rates range from 10% to 37%, based on taxable income and tax filing status (single, married filing jointly, head of household or married filing separately). State income tax rates vary per state and nine states have no income tax.
Source: Rutgers.edu

When Is the Income on a CD Taxed?

Interest on CDs in tax-deferred accounts (e.g., traditional IRAs) is taxed when distributions are made, typically in retirement. Required minimum distributions (RMDs) from tax-deferred accounts must begin at age 73 for people born from 1951 to 1959 and at age 75 for those born in 1960 or later.

For CDs with maturities longer than a year (e.g., five-year CD), taxes are due on interest earned each year, even if this money is not received until the CD matures or is rolled over into a new CD. Financial institutions where CDs are held report interest on Form 1099-INT. The interest amount is then reported to the IRS using Schedule B, Part I.

To optimize your wealth accumulating potential, investment planning should always be conducted from an after-tax perspective. This is especially important for yield-oriented investors. For them, investment options should be evaluated using a metric known as the tax-equivalent yield. Essentially, it is the pre-tax yield that must be earned on a taxable instrument to provide the same economic value as a tax-exempt instrument.

How Does a CD Term Impact Taxes?

If a CD matures in the same calendar year as its purchase date, the math is very simple. All the interest earned during its short term (for example, three, six or nine months) is taxable that year.

For multi-year CDs, taxes are typically due each year for the amount of interest credited to the CD. For example, in the first year of a 5-year CD, taxes are due on interest earned during that calendar year. The same is true for years two, three, four and five.

Owners of multi-year CDs in taxable accounts, therefore, pay taxes on interest they will not receive until a CD matures. Some people are not happy to pay taxes on “phantom money.” On the plus side, taxable income is spread over several tax years instead of bunched into one. This can reduce the amount of tax owed.

Many multi-year CD owners use a laddering strategy. Instead of purchasing one CD with one fixed maturity date, they divide their cash among several CDs with varying maturity dates. When CDs mature, the money gets reinvested in new CDs with the same term as the longest CD in the original ladder.

Read More: What Is a CD Ladder?

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How Is Taxable Interest on CDs Reported?

CD interest shown on Form 1099-INT gets tallied along with interest from other sources like checking, savings and money market accounts. 1099-INT forms from financial institutions typically arrive by Jan. 31 of the following year and provide a summary of interest paid on CDs throughout the previous tax year. All taxable interest must be reported even if a 1099-INT form is never received.

With CD interest rates significantly higher in 2023 than they were a few years earlier, tax withholding should be reviewed and, perhaps, adjusted upward. For example, an older adult earning 2% on a $200,000 CD may have earned $4,000 in annual interest in 2021. In 2023, with 4.5% interest, a similar CD could be earning $9,000. That is a $5,000 increase in annual taxable income.

Use the IRS tax withholding estimator tool or consult a tax advisor to determine the correct withholding on all income sources to avoid an under-withholding penalty.

How To Report CD Interest Income on Taxes

CD interest is entered on Schedule B, Part I, and total interest income from all sources is transferred to Form 1040, Line 2b. From there, it becomes part of the calculation of a taxpayer’s total income and, ultimately, adjusted gross income (AGI) and taxable income. If the total amount of taxable interest and/or ordinary dividends reported on Schedule B is over $1,500, additional questions must be answered on that form.

Once taxable income is calculated and tax credits are subtracted from this amount, tax withholding or estimated payments are compared to tax due to determine a refund or amount owed.

Did You Know?
Over 90% of taxpayers e-filed tax returns during the 2023 tax season.

Taxes on Inherited CDs

Tax rules on inherited CDs depend upon whether they are held in taxable or tax-deferred accounts, like CDs in traditional IRAs. A deceased person’s will (or state intestacy laws without a will) determines the beneficiary of CDs in a taxable account. Since inherited money is not considered income by the IRS, CD values are not taxed by the IRS. Any CD interest subsequently earned by the beneficiary, however, is taxable.

With CDs held in traditional IRAs, where no tax was previously paid on deposited cash or earnings, IRS rules for beneficiary RMD distributions apply. Surviving spouses can roll inherited IRAs containing CDs (or any other investment) into their own account and take RMDs based on their own age. Most non-spouse beneficiaries must take distributions from the deceased person’s IRA over 10 years and liquidate retirement accounts by Dec. 31 of the tenth year after the original owner’s death.

Seek assistance from a financial advisor for RMD-related questions.

Early Withdrawal Fees

CD owners must forfeit some earned interest if they break — meaning cash out — a CD prior to its maturity. Financial institutions charge penalties to encourage depositors to keep CDs for their full terms. 

Pro Tip
Penalty amounts are institution-specific but are often based on the term of a CD. The longer the CD term, the greater the penalty. For example, a penalty may equal a loss of three months' interest on a 1-year CD but six months' interest on a 3-year CD.

Early withdrawal penalties on CDs can be deducted on federal income tax returns, even if they are greater than earned interest. The penalty amount is shown on Form 1099-INT (Box 2) and is reported on Schedule 1, Line 18, “Penalty on Early Withdrawal of Savings.”

Strategies To Reduce Your CD Taxes

To reduce income taxes on interest earned on CDs, consider the following strategies: postpone or eliminate taxes, stagger interest payments and tax planning techniques.

Postpone Taxes

Money placed in a CD within a traditional IRA is generally tax-deductible (limits may apply for high earners) in the year that it is contributed and taxes on contributions and earnings are not taxed until withdrawn.

Eliminate Tax on Interest

Roth IRA contributions placed in CDs are made with after-tax dollars. Therefore, contributions are not deductible on your taxes, but earnings are tax-free.

Stagger Interest Payments

By laddering CDs, small amounts of taxable interest are earned on multiple CDs that mature in different tax years versus owing tax on interest from one large denomination CD in one tax year.

Employ Other Tax Planning Techniques

Strategies to reduce taxes and indirectly offset taxable CD interest include:

  • Investing in tax-free municipal bonds and bond funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
  • Tax loss harvesting — proactively selling securities at a loss to offset investment gains.
  • Using tax credits that provide a dollar-for-dollar reduction of taxes owed.
  • Purchasing tax-efficient mutual funds, like funds specially designed to reduce taxes.
  • “Bunching” itemized tax deductions like charitable donations, mortgage interest and state and local taxes in high-income years.
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Frequently Asked Questions About CD Taxes

Do you have to pay taxes on income earned from CDs?
In most cases yes. In taxable accounts, taxes are due in the tax year when CD interest is earned. For tax-deferred retirement savings accounts, taxes are due when money is withdrawn. A notable exception is tax-free withdrawals on CDs placed in Roth IRAs.
How much is your CD income taxed?
All interest earned on CDs is taxed. It is combined with other ordinary income sources to determine taxable income. Taxable income is taxed at seven tax rates ranging from 10% to 37%.
Are CDs taxed more or less than other common investments?
CDs are taxed more than other common investments. To illustrate, CD interest is taxed as ordinary income with tax rates ranging from 10% to 37%, while qualified dividends and long-term capital gains earned on stocks, mutual funds and ETFs are taxed at either 0%, 15% or 20% tax rates.
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Last Modified: October 11, 2023

5 Cited Research Articles

  1. Howard, E.J. (2023). How are CDs taxed? Annuity.org. Retrieved from https://www.annuity.org/personal-finance/banking/certificate-of-deposit/taxation/
  2. Rutgers NJAES. (2023). Tax information. Retrieved from https://njaes.rutgers.edu/money/tax-info/
  3. Fidelity Investments. (2023). Time for CDs? Retrieved from https://www.fidelity.com/learning-center/trading-investing/cd-ladders
  4. U.S. Internal Revenue Service. (2023). Topic No. 409, Capital Gains and Losses. Retrieved from https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc409
  5. O’Neill, B. Flipping a Switch: Your Guide to Happiness and Financial Security in Later Life. Atlantic Publishing Group, Inc., 2020.