What Is IRS Publication 575?

What Is IRS Publication 575?

IRS Publication 575 provides guidelines for handling pensions and annuities as per the IRS regulations. It includes information on how to report distributions from pensions and annuities on a tax return. Additionally, it covers how to deal with tax-free portions of payments.


IRS Document 575, issued by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), offers essential guidance regarding the handling of pension and annuity distributions. This publication details the appropriate procedures for reporting income derived from such distributions on tax returns. Additionally, it elucidates the process of rolling distributions into an alternative retirement plan.

Exploring IRS Publication 575

IRS Publication 575 undergoes annual updates, focusing on the tax implications associated with distributions from pension and annuity plans, along with guidelines for reporting such income on federal tax returns.

Taxation of these distributions hinges on their classification as periodic payments, dispersed at regular intervals over multiple years, or nonperiodic payments, representing sums not received as annuities. The publication addresses key aspects, including:

  • Determining the tax-free portion of periodic payments under a pension or annuity plan, incorporating a worksheet for qualified plan payments.
  • Calculating the tax-free portion of nonperiodic payments from qualified and nonqualified plans, with optional methods for assessing tax on lump-sum distributions from pension, stock bonus, and profit-sharing plans.
  • Facilitating the rollover of specific retirement plan distributions into another retirement plan or IRA.
  • Reporting disability payments and instructing beneficiaries and survivors of employees and retirees on reporting benefits received.
  • Detailing the reporting procedure for railroad retirement benefits.
  • Identifying scenarios where additional taxes may apply, such as early distributions and excess accumulation taxes.

Publication 575 excludes the tax treatment of funds from nonqualified plans, like commercial annuities, directing readers to consult IRS Publication 939, General Rule for Pensions and Annuities. Moreover, it does not encompass benefits for retired government employees or their beneficiaries, who should refer to IRS Publication 721, Tax Guide to U.S. Civil Service Retirement Benefits.

Defined Terms in IRS Publication 575: Pension, Annuity, and Qualified Employee Plans

In IRS Publication 575, the terms "pension" and "annuity" are distinct yet pivotal components of retirement income disbursed periodically. These definitions, particularly in the context of IRS scrutiny, shed light on their unique characteristics.

A pension manifests as a series of payments disbursed by an employer to a retired employee, typically extending throughout the retiree's lifetime. The payment amount hinges on variables such as the individual's years of service and past compensation. In contrast, an annuity materializes as a contractual commitment to regular payments spanning more than a year. The payments may be fixed, guaranteeing a specific amount to the beneficiary, or variable, contingent on investment returns. Funding for the annuity contract can stem from an employee individually or in collaboration with an employer.

The term "qualified employee plan" pertains to stock bonus, pension, or profit-sharing plans within a company. These plans exclusively benefit employees or their beneficiaries and comply with Internal Revenue Code requirements. Meeting these criteria bestows special tax advantages, such as tax deferral for employer contributions and capital gains treatment for qualifying participants.


IRS Publication 575 is a vital guide for understanding and complying with IRS regulations related to pensions and annuities. It covers key topics, including the reporting of distributions, taxation of payments, and handling tax-free portions. The publication's annual updates reflect changes in the retirement income landscape, providing essential insights into the categorizing and taxation of periodic and nonperiodic payments. It also offers clear rollover instructions, disability payments, and reporting procedures for various retirement benefits. As an indispensable resource, IRS Publication 575 serves to clarify defined terms and support informed decision-making in retirement planning.

IRS Publication 575
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