If you’ve been involved in an accident that wasn’t your fault, or lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, then you know what a life-changing event that can be. Add dealing with lawyers, insurance companies, and acting as a plaintiff in a case on top of that and most people experiences years of grief, pain, and stress.
Ideally, in the end, you have been able to receive compensation for your damages. Perhaps you have plans for how you’ll spend or save that money. But before you do anything, ask one very important question: Will I be taxed on this?
The General Rule
The general rule is that that settlements or awards in such cases are intended to compensate the plaintiff for a loss that has already been sustained. As a result, that money is not treated as new income and is therefore not considered taxable income by the IRS.
As with everything, there are exceptions to the general rule:
- Punitive Damages: if you were awarded punitive damages, that is money that is not necessarily meant to compensate you, but punish the other party. As a result, this award may be taxed as income.
- Breach of Contract: if your breach of contract caused your injury, you may be taxed on the damages awarded to you.
- Emotional Injury Only: if your claim is only for emotional distress, not for a physical injury, then your settlement may be taxable.
- Lost Wages: if a portion of your award was for lost wages or loss of income, that amount is taxable as income and must be reported.
- Interest: any interest earned on money awarded is taxable.
- . . .
Every case is unique, and exceptions to the general rule may vary from state to state.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
If your claim contained a variety of damages awarded, it may be difficult for you to know which portions taxable and which portions are not. There is only one way to be sure and that is to hire an attorney. If you hire legal representation, you’re not only more likely to receive a higher settlement, but you’ll also have a knowledgeable source on the taxability of your award.
If you’ve been injured in an auto accident or experienced the wrongful death of a loved one, contact the Personal Injury Lawyers Phoenix, AZ residents recommend from Kamper & Estrada, PLLC. With over 40 years of personal injury experience and free one-hour consultations, Kamper & Estrada, PLLC can help you with your personal injury case and work to maximize the non-taxable portion of your settlement.