Generations of Amricans have been using U.S. savings bonds to produce a stable and low-risk return on investment on their cash savings. Saving bonds may generate better profits as compared to your savings account in the bank.
This of course depends on the type of savings bonds and the current interest at the time of purchase. It takes several years for savings bonds to mature, hence it’s a great form of investment if you’re willing to wait out during those years.
Savings bonds are considerably safe, low-risk, stable investments, simply because these bonds are released by the U.S. Treasure and are further backed by the United States government in completed faith and credit.
Savings bonds are a type of federal government debt. When you purchase a savings bond, you’re technically lending money to the government and agreed to allow the government to repay that amount back to you over a period of time, at a specific interest rate.
While saving bonds are a form of long-term investments, there eventually comes a time when you will want to redeem them. Perhaps you’re redeeming them because you’re returning to school, have decided to retire, or for a number of other reasons, it’s your right to know just how much your savings bond is worth.
We’ll be walking you through the different types of savings bonds and how you can redeem them. Read on below to understand.
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U.S. Savings Bonds
There are several features in the U.S. savings bond. Majority of people find these bonds attractive as they’re not subjected to either state or local income taxes. However, these bonds can’t be transferred easily, and are non-negotiable.
Here are some features:
- Non-Marketable: The U.S. savings bonds are designed to be non-marketable, which means an investor is only able to purchase them from the U.S. government, and it can’t be sold to another investor.
Hence, when an investor redeems his savings bond, he will receive his original investment. Moreover, since the savings bond is registered with the government, any damaged or lost savings bond certificated can be replaced or reissued.
- Purchase: The U.S. savings bonds can only be purchased and further redeemed electronically via the TreasuryDirect website, that is being administered by the government itself.
The investor needs to open an account on their website and provide their Social Security Number, savings or checking account, and email address.
- Interest payment: The U.S. savings bonds are zero-coupon bonds that require no interest until they’re eventually redeemed, or once they reach the maturity date. If any interest is paid at maturity date or redemption, it’ll be electronically issued to the investor’s designated bank account.
- Early redemption: The number of years it takes for a savings bond to mature differe, but is usually in between that of 15 and 30 years. The bondholder has to wait at least 12 months after the initial investment before deciding to redeem their savings bond, and will receive the face value and interest.
Deciding to redeem a savings bond after five years will incur the investor zero penalty.
- Tax consequences: Interests earned from savings bonds have no state and local taxes charged on them. However, you’ll still be charged federal taxes, only during the year the bond matures or is redeemed.
Types of U.S. Savings Bonds
There are various types of U.S. savings bonds that have been distributed over the years, some of these are no longer offered by the government, but investors still own them. Depending on every individual bandholder’s situation, you may own a savings bond that is no longer earning interest or can’t be purchased any longer, but is still redeemable for cash value.
Currently, there are two types of savings bonds issued by the U.S. Treasury – Series EE and Series I savings bond. Series E and Series HH savings bonds might still be held by savers in the U.S.
Series EE Savings Bonds can be purchased electronically through TreasuryDirect and you get to earn a fixed interest rate. Series EE bonds bought in between May to October 2020 are paying 0.10% of interest and are sold at face value.
Series EE bonds earn interest until you redeem the bond itself or for 30 years. Moreover, you can only redeem the bond after one year of having purchased them, and if you redeem it before the five years marks, you need to forfeit the previous three months’ with interest.
Similarly to Series EE bonds, Series I Savings Bonds can also be purchased electronically via TreasuryDirect, and in paper by using your IRS tax refund. There are two types of interest on Series I bonds; a fixed interest rate available at the time of purchase, and an inflation rate calculated twice every year.
Series I bonds bought in between May to October 2020 are paying 1.06% of interest.
In addition to the above to savings bonds, there are some older bonds that are no longer being sold, but you might still be paying interest. If you do own these savings bonds, you may prefer to redeem them sooner than later.
One of them is the Series E Savings Bonds that was introduced in 1941. These bonds were typically purchased to help fund the war efforts. However, they were eventually replaced by Series EE bonds in 1980.
The last Series E bonds stopped paying interest in 2010, which is why it’s best to redeem this bond if you still own them.
Series HH Savings Bonds were distributed from 1980 to 2004, with a maturity time period of 20 years, so technically some of these bonds are still very much earning interest until 2024. In order to redeem the Series HH bonds, you’ll need it to Treasury Retail Securities Services at a specific address with a signed form.
Your bank is not eligible to cash these bonds for you, but can assist you with the process.
How Much Are Your Savings Bonds Worth?
The value of your savings bonds depends on several factors suas as what type of saving bond it is, when it was issued, and if it was sold at face value or a percentage of it. If you own either Series EE or Series I bonds, you should be able to the value of your bond on your TreasuryDirect online account.
However, if you own older savings bonds that were insured on paper, you can use this free calculator tool on TreasuryDirect to figure out just how much your bonds are worth:
Savings Bond Calculator: TreasuryDirect
In order to calculate how much your savings bonds are worth, you need to know the type of bond you have, its denomination, your bond’s serial number, and the issuing date. Once you have compiled all of this information, you use the above savings bond calculator to know the value of your bond as of today.
Alongside this calculator, you can also find thorough instructions on figuring out your bond’s future value, how to further build and save an inventory bond – basically of you more than one savings bonds, and how to calculate the interest to report to IRS – which you can do once the bond matures or as you go.
Once you’re aware of the value your bond holds, you can then decide if you want to redeem it for cash or not. Do consider the maturity factor attached to your bond, because it’s always best to let the bond mature before you redeem it.
Tax Implications on Redeeming Your Savings Bonds
As mentioned earlier on, your U.S. saving bonds are only subjected to federal income tax, neither the state nor the local income taxes. Your savings bond interest can be further subjected to a federal or state inheritance tax, excise tax and federal gift, all depending on your current tax situation.
The interest income from your savings bonds can be reported to the IRS whenever the interest is accrued, or you can also report the interest income at the point of redemption. It’s best if you speak to a professional tax advisor to know which reporting method would be best suited based on your overall tax situation.
Hence, before you decide to redeem your savings bonds, be sure to understand every tiny detail on your savings bonds and be mentally prepared to have to deal with possible tax implications or interest penalties.
Also, be prepared to talk to a professional financial advisor on how you can utilise your savings to support your long-term financial goals.
How to Redeem Savings Bonds?
There is more than one way in which you can redeem your savings bonds in cash. If you purchased your savings bonds electronically, you can easily redeem them through your online TreasuryDirect account. The redeemed cash will be deposited into your savings or checking account within the next few business days.
However, if your bond was purchased on paper, you need to head down to your local bank or a credit union to redeem it. According to the Treasury Departments, more than a whopping 95% of savings bonds are often cashed at local banks and credit unions.
Do be mindful that some of the other older savings bonds can’t be redeemed at your local bank or credit union, hence you’ll then need to fill a special FS Form 1522 and mail the bond to the Treasury Department’s Treasury Retail Security Services with clear deposit instructions and a certified signature on it.
For example if your bank or credit union are not able to cash an older savings bond of yours, or if you had inherited an old savings bond, the bank will still be able to help talk you through the entire redeeming process and can further certify the signature on the Treasury Form.
Don’t simply wait on cashing your bonds if they’ve reached maturity and you’re no longer earning interest on them – cash them as soon as possible under these circumstances.
The benefit of investing in a savings bond is that they’re pretty easy and straightforward, also they barely have much paperwork. Once you’ve purchased a bond, you don’t have to do anything until you decide to redeem it.
No matter what your reason for redeeming your savings bonds is, it’s important to understand the value of it at the present time. Moreover, make sure your decision to cash your savings bonds, is for a big reason and is going to contribute to your financial goals.