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Tax information for EE and I bonds

Note: The tax situation is different for HH bonds, which may still be earning interest.

Is savings bond interest taxable?

The interest that your savings bonds earn is subject to

  • federal income tax, but not state or local income tax
  • any federal estate, gift, and excise taxes and any state estate or inheritance taxes

Using the money for higher education may keep you from paying federal income tax on your savings bond interest. See the possibilities and restrictions for using savings bonds for education.

When do I get the interest on my EE or I bonds?

Your EE and I savings bonds earn interest from the first month you own them. However, you only get that interest when you cash them in or they finish their 30-year life (they mature).

(The interest your bonds earn gets added to the principal every 6 months, so the next interest the bond earns is based on the higher principal [old principal plus interest earned].)

When must I report the interest?

You have a choice. You can

  • put off (defer) reporting the interest until you file a federal income tax return for the year in which you actually get the interest, or
  • report the interest each year even though you don't actually get the interest then

Deferring until you get the interest

Most people put off reporting the interest until they actually get it.

You get a Form 1099-INT for the year in which you get the interest. (INT stands for "interest." The 1099-INT tells you how much interest the bond earned.)

  • If a financial institution pays the bond, you get a 1099-INT from that financial institution either soon after you cash your bond or by January 31 of the following year.
  • If your bonds are in your TreasuryDirect account, your 1099-INT is available early the next year in your account. This video shows you how to get your 1099-INT.

Reporting the interest every year

You may choose to report the interest every year. For example, you may find it advantageous to report interest every year on savings bonds in a child's name. The child may be paying taxes at a lower rate than will be true years later when the bond matures.

But you will not get a 1099-INT every year. You only get a 1099-INT at the end.

  • If the savings bonds are in a TreasuryDirect account, you can see the interest earned each year in the account.
  • If the savings bonds are on paper, our Savings Bond Calculator can help you figure out the interest to report.

When you get the 1099-INT at the end, it will show all the interest the bond earned over the years. For instructions on how to tell the IRS that you already reported some or all of that interest in earlier years, go to IRS Publication 550 and look for the section on U.S. Savings Bonds.

Changing from one method to the other

You can change from one reporting method to the other.

  • You were deferring. You now want to report every year.
    You may do this without permission from the IRS.
    But you must do this for all the savings bonds for the Social Security Number whose tax return this is. In addition to the interest for the year you are now reporting, you must also report all interest those bonds earned in the years before you changed.
  • You were reporting each year. You now want to defer the interest.
    You must fill out IRS Form 3115 or follow the instructions in IRS Publication 550 in the section on U.S. Savings Bonds

Where do I list the interest on my tax return?

Interest from your bonds goes on your federal income tax return on the same line with other interest income.

If you are reporting the interest on bonds another person owns (for example, the interest on your child's bonds), you report that on the other person's federal income tax return with other interest income that person has earned.

Who owes the tax?

If ownership has not changed

Situation Who owes the tax
You are the only owner of the bond You owe the tax
You use your money to buy a bond that you put in your name with a co-owner You owe the tax
You buy the bond but someone else is named as the only owner (for example, your child) The person who is named as the owner (not you)
You and another person buy a bond together, each putting in part of the money to buy the bond, and you are both named as co-owners You and the other person must each report the interest in proportion to how much you each paid for the bond
You and your spouse live in a community property state and buy a bond that is community property and you file separate federal income tax returns You and your spouse each report one-half of the interest

If ownership changes

Situation Who owes the tax
You give up ownership of the bond.
We reissue the bond.
You owe tax on the interest the bond earned until it was reissued.
You are the new owner of a reissued bond. You owe tax on the interest the bond earns after it was reissued.
For electronic savings bonds in TreasuryDirect
  • When we reissue the bond, we report the total interest the bond earned so far on a 1099-INT in the name and Social Security Number of the person being removed (the previous owner).
  • When the new owner later cashes in the bond or the bond matures, we report the interest in the name and Social Security Number of the person being paid (the new owner). However, we report only the interest earned after we reissued the bond.

Therefore, whether you are the old owner or the new owner of an electronic savings bond, your 1099-INT will reflect the interest you earned on your EE or I savings bonds.

For paper savings bonds

The 1099-INT will only come when someone cashes the bond or the bond matures. The interest will be reported under the name and Social Security Number of the person who cashes the bond or who owns it when it matures. The 1099-INT will include all the interest the bond earned over its lifetime. If you are the new owner who gets that 1099-INT, you must prove to the IRS that a portion of the interest was previously reported to a different owner.

For instructions on how to pay tax only on the interest that you owe (the interest the bond has earned since you became the bond owner), see IRS Publication 550.

More about reissuing EE or I savings bonds