How Are Yields Taxed on a Certificate of Deposit (CD)?

CD yields are taxed as interest income, not as capital gains

Certificates of deposit (CDs) are popular safe haven investments for people looking for a steady return that isn’t tied to stock market performance. But taxes due on the yield from a CD can take a bite out of an investor’s returns since they’re taxed as interest income.

A CD is typically issued by a bank or a credit union and pays interest on deposited funds in return for leaving that money in the account for a specific term, ranging from a few months to several years (one, three, or five years are the most common).

CDs are considered low-risk investments, as they are deposit accounts, which are insured up to $250,000 by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). Even better, CDs often pay higher interest rates than other deposit accounts, such as checking, savings, or money market accounts.

Key Takeaways

  • Certificates of deposit (CDs) provide a savings opportunity not connected to stock market performance.
  • CDs are considered low-risk investments.
  • It’s difficult to avoid paying tax on interest earned with CDs.
  • CDs also often have penalties for early withdrawal.

Taxing CD Yield

However, there is a price to pay for that higher interest. Regardless of how the yield is paid out to the investor—it usually goes into another account or is reinvested back into the CD—the money earned is considered taxable on both state and federal levels. And that amount is taxed as interest income, not at the (usually) more favorable capital gains rate. For example, if an investor is in the 24% tax bracket and has earned $300 in CD interest for the year, then they owe $72 in taxes.

CD yields are taxed as interest income, not at the lower rate of capital gains.

The bank or credit union that issued the CD provides the owner of the account with a 1099-INT statement detailing how much interest was earned annually. On CDs that mature in the same year in which they were purchased, all credited interest is taxable for that year. For multiyear CDs, only the interest credited each year is taxable. For example, if a three-year CD pays accrued interest on the last day of each year, the account holder pays taxes only on the interest earned for each tax year.

There’s no getting around paying tax on the interest, unless the CD is purchased in a tax-advantaged account, such as an individual retirement account (IRA) or a 401(k) plan. In this case, the same rules of tax deferral that apply to an IRA are applied to the CD. Although interest is being earned, no 1099-INT is issued until distributions are taken from the account, presumably during retirement, when the investor is in a lower tax bracket.

In addition to earned interest, penalties for early withdrawals (that is, prior to the CD’s maturity) are included on Form 1099-INT. In the event of this type of penalty, CD holders can deduct the amount charged from earned interest to reduce their tax obligation.

A CD is considered a low-risk investment, but while it’s safe from loss, individuals need to be aware of how taxes may impact the total return that they realize on the CD.

How do I avoid being taxed on my certificate of deposit (CD) earnings?

You can avoid immediate tax charges by purchasing a certificate of deposit (CD) through a tax-advantaged account like an individual retirement account (IRA) or a 401(k). If you paid any fees in withdrawal penalties, you can also include those penalty amounts as a tax deduction.

How much tax will I have to pay for my CD?

Since CD interest earnings are taxed as income, the tax percentage depends on the tax bracket for your overall income.

Do I have to pay taxes on a CD account?

Yes, interest income earned on CDs is subject to state and federal income tax.

The Bottom Line

Interest earned on certificates of deposit are subject to federal and state income tax and are taxed as regular income. Unlike gains on stocks or bonds that have gained value, which are subject to capital gains taxes, certificates of deposits are not considered investment securities and gains are reported to the IRS on form 1099-INT as regular income.

Article Sources
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  1. Federal Reserve System. “Regulation D: Reserve Requirements: Time Deposits,” Pages 2–3.

  2. Internal Revenue Service. “Topic No. 403 Interest Received: Examples of Taxable Interest.”

  3. Internal Revenue Service. “Publication 550 (2021), Investment Income and Expenses: Taxable Interest—General.”