Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

Is Life Insurance Taxable In Canada?

Life insurance provides financial security and peace of mind to individuals and their loved ones. However, when it comes to taxation, a common question arises: Is life insurance taxable in Canada?

The Short Answer:

The death benefit of a life insurance policy is often not taxable. Estate transfers, dividends, and interest income from life insurance may all include some parts that are taxable. Depending on how the policy is utilized, premium payments for life insurance policies may also be tax deductible.

In this article, we will dive deep into details to optimize your life insurance policy.

Do you Pay Tax on Life Insurance Payout in Canada?

Do you pay tax on life insurance payout Canada

In Canada, most life insurance payouts are not considered taxable income. However, there are certain situations where taxation may apply, such as when the estate is named as the beneficiary or when dividends and interest income are involved. Let's explore the tax implications of life insurance in Canada and how to optimize your policy.

Distinguishing Between Different Types of Life Insurance Policies & their Impact on Taxation

It's important to note that the type of life insurance policy you hold can impact the tax implications. Let's take a closer look at the differences:

  1. Term Life Insurance: Term life insurance offers coverage for a specific period. Since it focuses solely on providing a death benefit, it typically maintains its tax-free status. This means that whether you opt for a short-term or long-term policy, your beneficiaries will generally receive the payout without facing tax consequences.
  2. Permanent Life Insurance: Also called whole life insurance, permanent life insurance policies not only provide a death benefit but also accumulate cash value over time. While the death benefit remains tax-free, the cash value may lead to tax considerations if withdrawn or borrowed against. It's essential to understand the nuances of how cash value impacts taxation.
  3. Universal Life Insurance: Similar to permanent life insurance, universal life insurance includes a death benefit and an investment component. The tax implications may vary based on how the policy is managed, including withdrawals and loans against the policy's cash value.
To choose the best type of life insurance in Canada understand the key differences between term and whole life insurance and which is the better.

When does Life Insurance become Taxable in Canada?

In short, if your permanent life insurance policy or universal insurance company allows you to take out dividends or cash withdrawals, it'll be subject to income tax by the Canada Revenue Agency.

If your assets go towards your estate rather than a beneficiary, you'll also be on the hook for estate taxes and administration fees. If your beneficiary earned interest payments on the policy, then there are tax implications.

  • Policy Assignment for Value: If you decide to assign your life insurance policy for value, you might inadvertently trigger taxation. Assigning a policy for value essentially means using your policy for a loan. You're transferring the ownership rights to another party in exchange for something of value, like money or debt relief.
  • Retention of Incidents of Ownership: Retaining certain control over the policy, such as the ability to change beneficiaries, surrender the policy, or make alterations, can lead to the proceeds being considered part of your estate. As a result, taxation might apply.

Does a Beneficiary have to Pay Life Insurance Tax in Canada?

Life insurance tax Canada

When it comes to life insurance, the primary concern for many is the financial well-being of their beneficiaries. The reassuring news is that, in most cases, beneficiaries receiving life insurance proceeds in Canada do not have to worry about paying taxes on those funds.

A beneficiary can be:

  • A spouse
  • A child
  • Any other individual
  • A charity or another entity

If you don't appoint any beneficiary, your life insurance funds pool into your estate, which has several pitfalls. Less money goes to your family while it gets tied into administrative fees, probate fees and other possible taxes. This illustrates the importance of keeping your beneficiaries up to date. To have a detailed overview of how life insurance works in Canada you must consult with the experts.

Explaining the Tax-Free Transfer of Policy Ownership & Its Effect on Beneficiaries

In certain cases, policyholders might consider transferring the ownership of the life insurance policy to the intended beneficiaries before they pass. This is known as the "tax-free transfer of policy ownership." By doing so, the policy's death benefit can be paid directly to the beneficiaries, bypassing potential complications that could arise if the policy were to be part of the policyholder's estate.

This strategy can be particularly beneficial for estate planning, as it ensures a smoother and more direct transfer of funds to beneficiaries while avoiding potential delays and fees associated with probate.

Importantly, the tax-free nature of the transfer means that beneficiaries can receive the funds without becoming taxable income, honouring the original intention of the life insurance policy with a tax-free death benefit.

The Impact of the Policyholder Naming Their Estate as the Beneficiary

While the primary purpose of life insurance is to provide financial support to loved ones, some policyholders might name their own estate as the beneficiary or not appoint any beneficiary.

When the estate is named as the beneficiary, the life insurance proceeds become subject to probate and potential taxation if the estate's value surpasses certain thresholds. This could lead to delays in beneficiaries receiving the funds and a reduction in the final amount due to taxation.

Consulting with legal and financial experts can help determine the best course of action based on your circumstances.


In Canada, you can find solace in the fact that the financial support you receive from these policies is generally not subject to taxation. This means that the intended safety net remains robust, helping loved ones navigate challenging times without the added burden of tax obligations.

Understanding the implications of policy ownership, beneficiary designations, and potential estate-related complications is important for optimizing the benefits of your life insurance policy.

Our experts at Life Simple give you careful consideration and professional guidance to ensure that your life insurance policy aligns with your overall financial goals and helps create a stable future. To choose the best life insurance plans, you must apply now and professionals will connect to you through this process of buying the right life insurance.

Frequently Asked questions

Does a beneficiary have to pay taxes on a Life Insurance Policy?

Death Benefit & Beneficiaries

Life insurance proceeds from the death benefit are not deemed taxable income. As a beneficiary, you only pay income tax if:

  • The estate is the policy's beneficiary.
  • After the holder's death, any earnings made on the policy will be taxable to the beneficiary.
  • If you as a beneficiary received any interest payments/earnings along with the death benefit paid on the policy, the interest is subject to taxation.

Is Life Insurance Taxable in Canada?

Most life insurance policies are non-taxable according to the CRA.

Tax-free elements include:

  • A tax-free death benefit
  • Term life insurance policy with a beneficiary
  • Permanent life insurance policy with a beneficiary

When is life insurance taxable in Canada?

  • You don't have a beneficiary.
  • You earn dividends on a life insurance policy.
  • You withdraw from a permanent life insurance policy's cash value
  • When permanent life insurance policies grow in cash value and dividends, and interest payments are made.

Can I Claim Life Insurance premiums on my income tax? Is Life Insurance Tax Deductible in Canada?

No, you can't deduct your life insurance premiums from your income tax.

You may be able to deduct payments if you're a business owner that offers life insurance benefits to employees.

Who should I name as a beneficiary on my life insurance policy?

Anyone most affected by your loss would likely be the best beneficiary on your term or permanent life insurance policy. Examples include:

  • Immediate Family: Your spouse, your children, brothers, sisters, parents etc.
  • Lifelong Dependents/Special Needs
  • Charities or organizations

Are Foreign Life Insurance Taxable in Canada?

Foreign life insurance policies are frequently taxed and do not receive the same treatment as Canadian policies. Ask your insurance provider for written confirmation that your policy is acceptable in Canada if you do have a foreign policy. If it doesn't, ensure to talk to a tax expert for peace of mind for your loved ones.

What is line 12100 on my Income Tax Return?

Your life insurance provider will provide you with a T5 form if you owe taxes on interest and dividends received from your policy. The dividend income must then be reported on lines 12000 and 12010, and the interest income must be reported on line 12100 of your tax return.