How Do I? Report interest from savings bonds?

July 18, 2010  |   News   |     |   0 Comment

U.S. Savings Bonds can be a relatively risk-free investment during times of upheaval in the stock market, such as we are experiencing now. There are two different types of savings bonds for tax purposes. The first includes Series EE bonds and Series I bonds. You purchase these bonds at a discount from their face value and they accrue interest until reaching face value at maturity. If you invest in these bonds, you have a choice of reporting interest as it accrues each year you hold the bond or until you sell it or redeem it.

A second category consists of a special type of savings bond, HH bonds, on which income generally must be reported as accrued.

Series EE and I bonds

Generally, you do not have to pay taxes on interest accruing on EE and I bonds until they mature. You can make a special election to pay tax on the interest as it accrues.

Most investors choose not to make this election. However, if you have little or no other taxable income during the years in which the bond is maturing, you may be better off electing to pay tax annually as the bond earns interest until it reaches maturity, since you will be paying taxes on annual interest at a lower tax rate.

Once you make the election to pay tax annually, the election applies to all Series EE and I bonds that you own for all future years. This means the election cannot be made on a bond-by-bond basis. The IRS has a special rule and you may be able to cancel your election in some circumstances.

Higher education expenses

If you buy Series EE bonds, you can exclude all the interest earned at maturity if you use the bond to pay for higher education expenses. Many, but not all, higher education expenses qualify. Check with your tax advisor.

Series HH bonds

You may have acquired a special type of bond, the HH bond, which cannot be purchased for cash. You obtain HH bonds in exchange for EE bonds. HH bonds pay interest semi-annually at a variable interest rate.

Interest is reportable when you receive it. However, there is one important exception. If you obtained HH bonds in exchange for EE bonds, on which you did not pay interest currently, interest continues to be deferred until the bond is redeemed or matures. HH bonds mature in 10 years.


If and only to the extent that this publication contains contributions from tax professionals who are subject to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, the publisher, on behalf of those contributors, hereby states that any U.S. federal tax advice that is contained in such contributions was not intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.

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