You’ve just received an award as the prevailing party in a lawsuit and it’s just a few weeks before the April 15th tax deadline. As you organize your documentation for the preparation of your taxes, you suddenly wonder if you have to pay taxes on the legal proceeds that you received a few weeks earlier. Are they indeed taxable? Whether you must include the amount of the proceeds in your income depends on all the facts and circumstances of each individual case. It also depends upon the type of injury incurred.
Is Your Income Taxable?
Generally, under IRS rules, all incomes are taxable, except if they are specifically excluded from income. Taxable income includes money earned, like wages and tips. It also includes bartering, an exchange of property or services
Certain incomes are usually excluded from income, such as
• Gifts and inheritances
• Child support payments
• Welfare benefits
• Damage awards for physical injury or sickness
• Cash rebates from a dealer or manufacturer for an item you buy
• Reimbursements for qualified adoption expenses
Under certain conditions, the following income may not be taxable::
• Life insurance. Proceeds paid to you because of the death of the insured person are usually not taxable. However, if you redeem a life insurance policy for cash, any amount that you get that is more than the cost of the policy is taxable.
• Qualified scholarship. In most cases, income from this type of scholarship is not taxable. This means that amounts you use for certain costs, such as tuition and required books, are not taxable. On the other hand, amounts you use for room and board are taxable.
• State income tax refund. If you got a state or local income tax refund, the amount may be taxable. You should have received a 2014 Form 1099-G from the agency that made the payment to you. If you didn’t get it by mail, the agency may have provided the form electronically. Contact them to find out how to get the form. Report any taxable refund you got even if you did not receive Form 1099-G.