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Tax season alert: Reporting I bonds earnings becomes a challenge for investors

Tax season alert: Reporting I bonds earnings becomes a challenge for investors

Inflation's impact and the I bonds advantage

Over the past few years, the US, like many countries worldwide, has grappled with high inflation rates, affecting everything from daily groceries to housing costs.

However, amidst these economic challenges, I bonds have emerged as a silver lining for investors seeking refuge from inflation's erosive effects on savings.

Offered directly by the US Treasury, I bonds have provided a high guaranteed rate of return, making them an attractive option for those looking to safeguard their investments against inflation.

This unique feature of I bonds, where their interest rates adjust with inflation, has not only protected investors' purchasing power but also offered a rare opportunity for growth in a period of financial uncertainty.

The hidden tax responsibilities of I bonds

In an unexpected twist for many investors, the once straightforward process of making money from I bonds has turned into a complex tax reporting challenge.

During 2022, the allure of a guaranteed 9.62% interest rate transformed these government savings bonds into a highly sought-after investment.

However, the subsequent drop in rates in 2023 led to a surge in redemptions, with investors cashing in $6.45 billion worth of I bonds, a figure that dwarfs the previous year's total by 22 times.

The tax implications unveiled

Investors are now facing the reality of their tax obligations, as all interest earned from I bonds is subject to federal income tax.

The process of reporting this income is complicated by the digital nature of obtaining the necessary tax documents.

Unlike other investments, a 1099 form for I bonds earnings will not be mailed to investors. Instead, they must navigate the TreasuryDirect website to download the form, a task that has proven to be less than intuitive for many.

Avoiding IRS penalties

The stakes are high for those who overlook or mishandle the reporting of their I bonds interest.

Failure to include this income on tax returns can lead to penalties and interest charges from the IRS, potentially negating the financial gains from the investment.

Tax experts emphasize the importance of correctly reporting I bonds interest to avoid these financial pitfalls.

Navigating TreasuryDirect: A step-by-step process

To assist investors, the Treasury Department has released an instructional video detailing how to access the 1099 form on the TreasuryDirect site. 

The process involves logging into one's account, selecting the appropriate tax year, and printing the form directly from the browser.

This procedure, while straightforward for some, has proven to be a hurdle for many investors unfamiliar with the platform.

Future considerations for I bonds investors

Looking ahead, investors have the option to withhold taxes on future I bonds redemptions, a feature that mirrors the withholding process for paychecks.

This preemptive measure can simplify tax season for investors, ensuring that a portion of their tax liability is automatically addressed at the time of redemption.


As tax season approaches, I bonds investors are urged to familiarize themselves with the tax reporting process and take proactive steps to ensure compliance.

With careful attention to detail and an understanding of the TreasuryDirect system, investors can navigate their tax obligations and continue to enjoy the benefits of their investments.

Stay Informed

For those invested in I bonds or considering this option in the future, staying informed about the tax implications and reporting requirements is crucial.

As the tax landscape evolves, understanding the nuances of investment income reporting will be key to maximizing returns and minimizing tax liabilities.

Ines Zemelman, EA
Founder of TFX