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Rolling Over Annuities to an IRA

June 04, 2024

When planning for retirement, many individuals explore different financial products to ensure a stable income stream. This blog post discusses the possibilities, procedures, and considerations involved in rolling over annuities to an IRA.

Understanding Annuities and IRAs


Annuities are financial products offered by insurance companies that provide regular payments in exchange for an initial lump sum or a series of contributions. They are designed to provide a steady income stream, typically during retirement. Annuities come in various forms, including fixed, variable, immediate, and deferred.

Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)

IRAs are tax-advantaged investment accounts designed to help individuals save for retirement. The two main types are Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. Traditional IRAs offer tax-deferred growth, meaning you pay taxes on withdrawals during retirement. Roth IRAs provide tax-free growth, with contributions made after taxes.

Can You Roll Over Annuities to an IRA?

Yes, it is possible to roll over certain types of annuities into an IRA, but there are specific rules and conditions to follow. Here's what you need to know:

Eligible Annuities

Not all annuities are eligible for rollover.

  • Generally, qualified annuities, which are purchased with pre-tax dollars as part of a retirement plan, can be rolled over into an IRA.
  • Non-qualified annuities, bought with after-tax dollars, cannot be rolled over into an IRA.

Direct vs. Indirect Rollovers

  1. Direct Rollover: This is the most straightforward method. The funds from the annuity are directly transferred to the IRA without the account holder taking possession of the money. This method avoids potential tax penalties and is simpler administratively.

  2. Indirect Rollover: In this method, the account holder receives the funds from the annuity and then has 60 days to deposit the amount into an IRA. Failure to complete the rollover within this period can result in taxes and penalties. Moreover, the annuity provider may withhold 20% of the funds for tax purposes, which you’ll need to replace to complete the rollover fully.

Steps for Rolling Over an Annuity to an IRA

  1. Consult a Financial Advisor: Before making any decisions, it’s crucial to speak with a financial advisor who can help you understand the implications and ensure it aligns with your retirement strategy.

  2. Check Eligibility: Confirm that your annuity is eligible for rollover. Qualified annuities can generally be rolled over, but you need to verify the specifics with your annuity provider.

  3. Choose the Right IRA: Decide whether a Traditional or Roth IRA is more beneficial for your financial situation. Remember, rolling over to a Roth IRA may incur taxes since Roth contributions are made with after-tax dollars.

  4. Initiate the Rollover: Contact your annuity provider to start the rollover process. Opt for a direct rollover to simplify the process and avoid potential tax issues.

  5. Complete the Rollover: Ensure the funds are transferred within the required timeframe, particularly if you’re doing an indirect rollover.

Benefits of Rolling Over An Annuity to an IRA

  1. Consolidation: Combining various retirement accounts into a single IRA can simplify management and tracking.

  2. Investment Options: IRAs often offer a wider range of investment choices compared to annuities, providing greater flexibility in managing your retirement funds.

  3. Tax Advantages: Depending on your situation, rolling over to an IRA can provide favorable tax treatment, especially if you opt for a Roth IRA and plan strategically.*

  4. Avoiding Penalties: Properly executed rollovers can help you avoid early withdrawal penalties and maintain the tax-deferred status of your retirement savings.


Rolling over an annuity into an IRA can be a smart move for many individuals looking to streamline their retirement savings and potentially enhance their investment options. However, it’s essential to understand the rules, consult with a financial advisor, and carefully consider your specific financial situation. By doing so, you can make informed decisions that align with your long-term retirement goals.

*Qualified variable annuities, meaning financial products set up with pre-tax dollars, can be rolled over into a traditional IRA. But you must know how to do it correctly. While you might be able to roll a variable annuity into a Roth IRA, you first must roll it into a traditional IRA and then do a Roth conversion. However, you'll owe income taxes on the converted amount.

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