Is it time to cash out your U.S. savings bonds?

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U.S. savings bonds
bonds - wooden cubes with letters on a silver laptop keyboard

U.S. savings bonds can be a great investment. They are safe, offer fixed interest rates and are not subject to state or local income tax. Whether you received U.S. savings bonds as a gift from your grandparents or through payroll deductions for your first job, U.S. savings bonds you may have have stopped earning interest.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • There are different varieties of U.S. savings bonds, including Series E, Series EE, and Series I, that stop earning interest at a certain point;
  • The U.S. Treasury Department estimates that there are billions of dollars in unclaimed savings bonds outstanding.
  • Interest on savings bonds is subject to federal income tax;
  • U.S. savings bonds are redeemable at many financial institutions;

EE Series Bonds 

Series EE bonds , the common breed first issued in 1980, and still in issue today, are designed to pay interest for up to 30 years. Therefore, it can be said that first-generation bonds issued in 1989 or earlier will stop paying at the end of 2019. At that point, their value is frozen, so there’s no reason to hold on to them other than nostalgia. Instead, you can cash them out and put the money to more productive uses.

Your grandparents probably bought you a book of E-series savings bonds before the EE-series bonds came along. The bonds were issued from 1941 to 1980, and all of them also stopped paying interest.

first series of bonds 

The most recent Series 1 Bond -Pay Fixed and Fixed Assets Inflation Adjusted The ratio was first published in 1998. They are valid for 30 years, so the earliest tranches will stop paying interest in 2028.

How much unclaimed money exists in the form of savings bonds that have stopped earning interest but have not yet been redeemed? This U.S. Treasury Department is estimated to be in the billions.

 

The U.S. Treasury Department issues these debt securities to help the U.S. government meet its borrowing needs;

How much are your bonds worth?

To determine the value of an old bond, you can use the Savings Bond Calculator on the Treasury Department’s direct website. All you need is the bond ‘s denomination and issue date. There’s also a place to enter your bond’s serial number, but you don’t need it to get a value.

The calculator’s answer may surprise you. For example, a $50 bond issued in August 1982, if someone was willing to pay $25, would now be worth $146.90. A $100 bond issued in February 1984 would sell for $230.64.

If you believe you have some old savings bonds but have lost track of them, you can submit an application claiming that for bonds with the Treasury, please complete Form 1048 Financial Services for Lost, Stolen, or Destroyed U.S. Savings bond claims. Unfortunately, the popular online tool Treasury Hunt was discontinued in early 2017.

how to cash

You can redeem old paper bonds at many banks and other financial institutions . The U.S. Treasury Department’s direct website doesn’t make a list, but it’s recommended to look around. Remember, savings bonds interest federal income taxes , but not state or local taxes.

You can file annual tax returns while holding the bond, or you can wait until the bond matures to pay the tax in one lump sum, as most people do. After redeeming your bond, you will receive an IRS check , Form 1099-INT , reflecting your taxable income .

In some cases, an exception is if you used the proceeds of a bond issued in 1990 or later to pay debt- qualified higher education expenses for yourself or your children. These rules, including income limits, are on the Education Planning section of the Treasury Direct website.

bottom line

Don’t sit back and watch the cash coming. But before you cash out your bonds, it’s a good idea to record what the savings bond calculator says they’re worth, just to make sure you get every dollar you owe.

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